Press Club

Morning Notes

Pigeons hanging out in Rosslyn’s Freedom Park (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Bus Crash in Front of Hospital  — “At approximately 1:52 p.m., police were dispatched to the report of a two vehicle crash involving an ART bus in the 1600 block of N. George Mason Drive. The driver of the other involved vehicle has been transported to the hospital for medical evaluation. Police remain on scene investigating the cause of the crash.” [Twitter]

Civ Fed Proposes Board Changes — “A task force empaneled by the Arlington County Civic Federation has proposed a somewhat radical reconfiguration of County Board and School Board elections… The TiGER proposal, which seeks to expand membership on each body to seven, would have four County Board members and three School Board members elected in a given year, followed by a gap year, followed by three County Board members and four School Board members elected. After another gap year, the process would repeat.” [Sun Gazette]

New Lounge Arriving at DCA — An American Express Centurion Lounge is under construction at Reagan National Airport. [Twitter]

Free Soccer Programming Pilot — “The Arlington Soccer Association is teaming up with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing (APAH) to provide free soccer programming. The eight-week pilot program recently kicked off and brings soccer programming to families who live in APAH’s more than 2,000 affordable apartments throughout Arlington County. The programming is offered once a week at local parks and elementary schools for children as young as 3 years old.” [Press Release]

Throwback to Metro Groundbreaking — “We recently rediscovered a scrapbook from the early days of NVTC. June 18, 1971: Ceremonies to mark construction of the Rosslyn Metro station, ‘first in the D.C. suburbs.'” [Twitter]

Buses Gone Wild on I-395 — From Dave Statter: “I’ve shown you lots of amateur drivers trying to navigate I-395S Exit 8C/Route 1. Let’s see how the pros handle it.” [Twitter]

Car vs. Bakery Near Fairlington — “No one was injured after a car smashed through a front window of Great Harvest Bread (1711 Centre Plaza) in Fairlington Centre on Tuesday night (May 10). The incident occurred at around 7 p.m., which is after the bakery is closed.” [ALXnow]

It’s Friday — Overcast throughout the day with some patchy fog. Showers likely, with thunderstorms also possible after 2 p.m. High of 70 and low of 59. Sunrise at 5:59 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Morning Notes

Looking up while underneath cherry blossoms on Wilson Blvd in Virginia Square as storm clouds move in (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Little League Opening Day This Weekend — “For the first time since 2019, Arlington Little League will host its Opening Day on Sun, April 3 from 1-5:30 p.m. at Barcroft Park.” [Press Release]

Arlington Libraries Highlight Banned Books — “The American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom  recently issued a statement opposing widespread efforts to censor books in U.S. schools and libraries. Unfortunately, Virginia has been subject to these censorship efforts, and in light of this, Arlington Public Library is taking a stand to build awareness of these challenged books.” [Arlington Public Library]

AHC Announces New Leader — From a press release: “AHC Inc.’s Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Paul Bernard has been unanimously selected as the organization’s new President/Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He will join AHC in his new role on April 4.” Bernard fills a CEO seat at the affordable housing provided previously held by Walter Webdale, who retired after controversy over conditions at AHC’s Serrano Apartments. [AHC Inc.]

W-L Holding ‘Pink Games’ This Month — “W-L girls’ soccer is turning PINK for Doorways! Join the players in supporting survivors of domestic and sexual violence as well as families and youth experiencing homelessness.” [Doorways]

It’s April Fool’s Day — Mostly cloudy throughout the day today, April 1. Breezy, with a west wind 14 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. High of 65 and low of 43. Sunrise at 6:54 am and sunset at 7:33 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Time has expired for Spanish tapas restaurant and soccer-watching venue Copa Kitchen & Bar in Ballston.

The establishment at Ballston Quarter mall served its final brunches over the weekend after apparently failing to score with local diners. Of course, stiff opposition — in the form of the pandemic and a labor shortage — probably didn’t help.

Copa opened in March 2019, in a separate space adjacent to the Quarter Market food hall. It offered Spanish-inspired small plates, flatbreads, sangria from its “sangria garden,” outdoor seating and soccer matches on the bar’s TVs.

Late last month, however, Copa announced on its website it would soon close.

We’ve got some news to share about Copa Kitchen & Bar. We’re closing our doors and serving our last brunch on Sunday November 7th. We have had such a good time bringing you our Spanish inspired tapas and being a part of the Ballston Quarter family over the last two years. We want to thank every customer who has dined with us, watched games with us, followed our journey on social media or enjoyed a happy hour with us. We’d like to extend a special thanks to the customers who have supported us (and all restaurants) through the pandemic.

Today workers could be seen in the restaurant space, packing up items and removing some of the fixtures.

It’s the second time in just over a year that a soccer-centric restaurant has shuttered in Arlington. Summers Restaurant in Courthouse closed last fall ahead of a redevelopment project.

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Morning Notes

Pupatella Gets Millions for Expansion — “Arlington’s own Pupatella pizza restaurant chain has raised $7.5 million to continue its growth spurt, with plans to open more more than a dozen restaurants in the coming years. The round was fully subscribed and had participation from almost all of the investors who participated in the company’s first round in 2018, when it raised $3.75 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Steel from WTC Donated to Arlington — “Two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center will now be on permanent display in D.C. and Virginia ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The words ‘never forget’ are written on the front of a piece of steel beam unveiled during a ceremony in front of the Arlington County Police Officer Memorial on Sunday.” [WTOP]

Crystal City Getting Cooler? — “Nearly three years after Amazon announced it would be bringing its second headquarters to Arlington — and specifically to ‘National Landing,’ a name conjured by local officials to sell the area as a tech hub — its reputation may be changing.” [Washington Post]

Big Win for Fmr. Youth Soccer Star — “Congratulations to #TeamArlington alum [Eryk Williamson] and the @usmnt on winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup.” [Twitter, ALXnow]

Food Scrap Caddy Being Delivered — “With Arlington’s weekly food scraps collection program launching next month, a County-provided countertop caddy, instructions and even introductory biodegradable bags will be delivered to curbside customer homes beginning this week.” [Arlington County]

Fire Engine Involved in Crash — “An Arlington fire engine was involved in a crash at the intersection of 18th Street S. and S. Fern Street this morning around 9:30. No firefighters were injured. One person in the second vehicle involved was taken to the hospital but is expected to be okay, per an ACFD spokesman.” [Twitter]

CPRO to Mark 35th Anniversary — “As the group’s 35th anniversary looms on the horizon this fall, the recent annual meeting of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) was a chance to take stock of tumultuous times and fly the organization’s flag in the march toward the future.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Poetry Book — “I picked up a copy of the ‘Written in Arlington: Poems of Arlington, Virginia’ edited by Katherine E. Young, our poet laureate emerita. Published quietly last fall during the pandemic, it showcases storytelling via 150 poems by 87 poets who ‘live, work, study, worship in or simply pass through… and in so doing, make Arlington their own,’ Young explains. She nodded to famous Arlington-based poets — George Washington Parke Custis, Doors singer Jim Morrison, and Zitkala-Sa.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Arlington Storm ballplayers meet U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (courtesy photo)

For the first time, a team of 9-year-old baseball players from the Arlington Babe Ruth League is going to the league’s version of the World Series.

The team, dubbed the Arlington Storm, is headed to Florida’s Treasure Coast today (Wednesday) to compete for the national title. The trip comes after winning the Virginia state championship and the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Championship last week in Snow Hill, North Carolina.

“We’ve got some really good ball players, [and] they’re becoming really good teammates, most importantly,” said team captain Jeff Groharing, who is an attorney with the Department of Justice by day, and a baseball coach by morning (practice starts at 7:30 a.m. daily).

The boys will face several other teams from across the country in a series of games leading up to the championship on Thursday, Aug. 5.

“I’m burning up all my leave, but there’s no better way to spend it,” said Groharing, who says the kids have been having a whirlwind of a time since they won regionals.

After their victories the team received encouragement from Rep. Don Beyer and even visited the U.S. Capitol and met with Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

Getting attention from the Senators is neat for the boys,” Groharing said. “Both Senators Warner and Kaine seemed to enjoy spending time with the boys as well.”

Groharing started coaching the team when his son, who is on the team, was 7. He says parents love sending their kids to practice because they start their days early and learn values, such as teamwork and discipline.

“I don’t think they realize how much of an accomplishment it is for them to get it this far,” he said.

Arlington was well-represented down in Florida last weekend by another youth sports team. The Arlington Soccer Association’s team of 15-year-old boys won the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships on Sunday, and three players received individual awards, we are told.

https://twitter.com/vayouthsoccer/status/1419712632794370057

https://twitter.com/arlingtonsoccer/status/1419711801030332421

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Morning Notes

Big Changes Proposed for Shirlington — “A proposal to re-imagine the streets of Shirlington is being put forward. Last July, the Arlington County Board approved mixed-use rezoning for nearly ten acres of the Village at Shirlington. Now, Federal Realty Investment Trust (FRIT) is putting forth a vision to transform the streetscape throughout the area… Campbell Avenue will be the focal point for these improvements, updated with patterned pavers and interactive sculptures.” [UrbanTurf]

Yorktown Soccer in State Final — “Somewhere in the mess of bodies, Patriots senior Gibson Lusk poked the ball into the net. It gave Yorktown a lead for good and punctuated the full turnaround of a game that started slow and sloppy for the Patriots. Now, they are headed to the Virginia Class 6 title game after a 3-1 victory Monday.” [Washington Post]

Huske Reacts to Olympic Qualification — “In her first on-camera interview since returning from Omaha, Torri talked with 7News sports anchor Scott Abraham about her incredible journey to the Olympic Games. ‘At first it was very overwhelming, I feel like it’s just so unbelievable that this would happen to me of all people,’ Huske told Abraham… ‘I never thought I would be in this position and it’s really weird to think that some little kid looks up to you.'” [WJLA]

Feds Off Hook, But ACPD Still Being Sued — “A federal judge has dismissed multiple claims filed by protesters and civil liberties groups after law enforcement forcefully cleared demonstrators from Lafayette Square Park ahead of Donald Trump’s infamous photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church last summer…. The judge did allow litigation to proceed against D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department and Arlington County Police, however.” [DCist]

Amazon Donated Antiracism Books to APS — “The emails show Amazon employees reached out to Arlington Public Schools as part of ‘NeighborGood,’ a program to donate $100,000 to schools and other institutions that ’empower black voices and serve black communities.’ Despite Amazon’s offer to purchase Kindles or other equipment, Arlington Public Schools director of diversity and inclusion Arron Gregory requested copies of [Ibram X.] Kendi’s Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You. Amazon donated between 500-600 copies of the book to Wakefield High School and paid $10,000 to have Kendi’s coauthor Jason Reynolds address students.” [Washington Free Beacon]

Crystal City Metro Mural Finalists Selected — “Six visual artists have been chosen as finalists to paint a new mural at the Crystal City Metro Plaza, according to a release from the National Landing Business Improvement District (BID). The BID put a call out in May for individual artists or teams of artists to submit their credentials by June 1 so judges could determine if they had the experience and the chops to tackle the project.” [Patch, National Landing BID]

Memories of a Local Cicada Expert — “Ann thought of Allard recently because of one of his favorite subjects: the periodical cicada. She hadn’t realized he was an expert in Brood X. Then she found his 1937 paper in the American Naturalist journal. Ann posted her memories on Facebook’s ‘I grew up in Arlington, VA’ page and was surprised at how many other people from the neighborhood remembered the old scientist.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

Progress on Revamped VRE Station — “It could just be just a matter of months until the Virginia Railway Express plan to create a new station in Crystal City reaches another milestone. VRE officials project it will be in the third quarter of 2021 that preliminary engineering and environmental-impact steps toward eventual construction will be completed.” [Sun Gazette]

Amazon Sponsoring Arlington Youth Soccer — “Kids in Arlington’s travel soccer programs will play with the Amazon logo on the backs of their jerseys this fall thanks to a sponsorship between the retailing giant and the Arlington Soccer Association.” [Washingtonian]

Board Mulls Police Oversight — “Throughout June and July, the Board will consider different models of a Civilian Review Board with the goal of creating a CRB and Independent Policing Auditor function that can enhance community trust in and collaboration with the Arlington County Police Department… In the coming weeks, the County Board will be studying these models, as well as others from around the Commonwealth and country, and encourages community members to provide their feedback and perspectives on the different models.” [Arlington County]

Storms Expected Today — “Strong to severe thunderstorms are possible Thursday afternoon and evening across the DMV, with strong to locally damaging winds being the main threat. The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has the region at a Level 2 out of 5 slight risk for severe weather.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

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Arlington County is asking residents how and when they use athletic fields.

The County’s Public Spaces Master Plan, adopted in April 2019, calls for a public survey every five years to garner feedback to determine how and when Arlingtonians use the available athletic fields.

The collected data will be used to update the permit process, availability of fields, and who has access when.

“We have a finite amount of park spaces,” Jerry Solomon, Community Engagement Manager for the Department of Parks and Recreation, writes to ARLnow in an email. “Our goal is to ensure we are using them as efficiently and effectively as possible. We need to determine if we are offering field spaces at times that people can best access them.”

Fields for adult soccer leagues, for example, are most needed outside of typical working hours. Baseball diamonds for Little League should be accessible when the players are, like on weekends or after school.

This survey will help make sure this is the case, plus provide additional data that may not be as self-explanatory.

The survey specifically asks about activity start and end times for different age groups as well, like if kids 9 and youngers should end their field use prior sundown on weekdays and who should have access to lighted fields.

In total, Arlington has 96 athletic fields — a mix of rectangular fields (35), diamond fields (42), and a combination of the two (19). That can be further broken down into lighted (37) and not lighted fields (59) as well as natural grass (80) and synthetic turf fields (16).

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the fields that have the most use on an individual basis are the lighted, synthetic turf fields. On average, each one of those fields gets more than 2,100 hours of play per year. This is compared to an average of 700 hours per non-lighted, natural grass field.

For years, which fields got lights has been a source of community contention.

Athletic field use in Arlington is often not a free-for-all or on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nearly all of the fields are either only accessible to permit holders or priority is given to permit holders.

Only six of the 96 athletic fields in Arlington are available as drop-in fields, or “community fields.” Even those, though, can be reserved for scheduled programs or practices.

That has drawn the ire of some residents, like those who live near Pentagon City and want to see one or both of the softball diamonds at Virginia Highlands Park opened up for community use.

There’s even a tiered priority system for the allocation of permits, which was first recommended in 2016 due to an “inequity” that existed in how fields were allocated.

Arlington Public Schools are given first priority, then county-organized non-profit youth sport leagues, then adult leagues, then for-profit sports leagues, and, finally, individual rentals or other organizations.

Some fields also have agreements with local universities for their use.

All of this, plus Arlington’s growing population, is resulting in heavy use and demand for athletic fields. According to the PSMP, the county could need an additional 11 rectangular and 2 diamond fields by 2035 to maintain the current levels of use and access.

The hope is that the survey and public feedback will allow for better, more efficient, and more fair use of the limited field space.

This survey will be open until the end of the month, says Solomon, at which point DPR will review and report findings to the Public Spaces Master Plan Implementation Committee in the spring.

There could be more opportunities to provide feedback come the spring and summer, Solomon noted.

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One of Arlington’s biggest annual events has been cancelled and its biggest sports league suspended, as a result of coronavirus concerns.

Ballston Quarterfest made the announcement shortly after 3 p.m.

“The health and well-being of our community is the top priority at the Ballston BID,” said a PR rep for the business improvement district. “It is for this most important reason that we have made the difficult decision to cancel Quarterfest this year, which was scheduled for Saturday, May 16.”

“At this time, we plan to move forward with other, smaller events and will continue to follow Arlington County-recommended procedures for events, which may include canceling or postponing some additional or perhaps all public programs and events taking place in the near future,” the rep said.

The Arlington Soccer Association, meanwhile, has announced that it is suspending operations, practices and games until at least the end of the month.

“In light of the actions taken today by US Youth Soccer and the US Soccer Federation to suspend operations, Arlington Soccer is suspending all club-related practices, games and other activities effective immediately through March 30, 2020,” the league said. “At that time, we will reevaluate the situation and provide families with an update on next steps. While we are disappointed to have to make this decision, we believe it is in the best interest of our players, their families and our employees”

The pair of Thursday afternoon announcements will nix a street festival in Ballston attended by tens of thousands of people each year, to the benefit of local restaurants, and at least temporarily pause a league with 9,000 players. The actions are in line with health authorities’ recommendation to avoid large gatherings and social contact, to help head off the rapid spread of the disease.

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John Mingus, an Arlington youth soccer coach, was named National Volunteer of the Year by US Youth Soccer on Saturday.

Mingus began coaching soccer when his first daughter began playing in the spring of 2001. He coached both of his daughters until they began high school. He continued to coach kindergarten boys, first grade and high school girls even after he stopped coaching his daughters’ teams.

He is currently the club manager of the Northwest Lions, the largest club in the Arlington Soccer Association. As club manager, Mingus places new players in separate teams, he recruits the coaches for each team, and sets policies and procedures for the program.

“I love volunteering because I believe strongly in [Arlington Soccer]’s mission,” Mingus said. “I believe Arlington rec soccer is an incredible program that offers kids of all ages to play soccer. It is important to have a program that provides regardless of their ability.”

Mingus began playing soccer mostly as a neighborhood pick-up player growing up, and later played intramural soccer in college and grad school.

With the prize, Mingus received a pass to get free Chipotle burritos for one year.

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Morning Notes

Tow Truck Chase Ends in Arlington — “A suspect involved in a domestic dispute in Prince George’s County lead officers on a chase through D.C. and into Arlington, Virginia, Tuesday night… police believed the suspect was armed and had kidnapped a young child, but the child was safe in Maryland.” [NBC 4, Twitter]

New D.C. United Player Dines at El Pollo Rico — “Great to see legendary #ArlingtonVA business, El Pollo Rico in @dcunited’s video introducing their new #10, Peruvian Edison Flores.” [Twitter]

Rave Review for New Rosslyn Restaurant — “Sfoglina exceeds the preview offered by the sfogline in the window. The fare is comforting to the core and will leave you wanting more of Trabocchi’s cooking. You’re in luck, he’s considering opening more restaurants in Northern Virginia.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]

ACFD Helps Retrieve Wayward Pentagon Flag — “When the flags came loose earlier this month at the #Pentagon, Truck 105 from Crystal City was called in for a rescue. Good work everyone!” [Twitter]

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