Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Rosslyn Dog Park Now Open — “Thanks to the support of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and R-DOGS, there’s a new interim dog park on the western side of Gateway Park. Now that’s something to bark about!” [Arlington County, Instagram]

Arlingtonian Confirmed as U.N. Ambassador — “The Senate voted 78-20 on Tuesday to confirm Linda Thomas-Greenfield as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.” The long-time Arlington resident “has promised to restore the U.S. role as a defender of human rights and will look to repair multilateral relationships that fractured under former President Trump.” [Axios]

Crashes on I-395 Yesterday Morning — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “The units from Station 9C ran a three vehicle accident early this morning on 395NB. Upon arrival, they discovered a trapped patient who was quickly extricated. Two patients were treated and transported with non-life threatening injuries.” [Twitter, WUSA 9]

YHS Students to Continue Athletics in College — “A dozen Yorktown High School athletes participated in recent college signing ceremonies to continue their playing careers at the next level.” [InsideNova]

Local Woman Sickened By New Puppy — “An Arlington mother and daughter are warning those interested in purchasing a new pet about a disease called campylobacter. Audrey Glitt was thrilled when her mother, Katrina Metzler, brought home a new puppy named Fernweh as a surprise — but shortly after the dog’s arrival, the excitement quickly faded to worry. ‘I think it was about, a week later after we had gotten her, I started getting really sick and I couldn’t get out of bed,’ said Glitt.” [WDVM]

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A belated 2020 high school football season is getting underway, but a number of Arlington Public Schools parents are awaiting a plan permitting limited spectators.

Last fall, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam approved a revised schedule for high school sports that allowed winter sports to start in December and rescheduled fall-season sports for February through early May.

Arlington Public Schools football players had their first official practice on Feb. 4 ahead of their first games on Monday, Feb. 22 — yes, high school football on a Monday night — but so far, there is no word on whether people can attend their games.

“Staff are working on these plans now,” APS spokesman Frank Bellavia told ARLnow in an email.

Yorktown football parent Diane Boyle said in an email that she is hoping a plan for spectators will be announced at the upcoming School Board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18.

“The stands are rarely at capacity even in non-pandemic times,” Boyle said. “I’m certain we can safely have limited spectators, and hopeful APS announces a workable plan soon.”

Boyle is one of nearly 150 parents who have written to APS, urging the school system to allow two masked, socially distanced spectators per player. Northam allowed this ratio for outdoor sports in a December executive order that also stipulates capacity cannot exceed 30% of a venue.

The Yorktown parents pleaded for action to allow spectators for the sake of students. More from their letter:

“Students’ need for this sort of athletic and emotional outlet is far more pressing during Covid than in ordinary times. Our students have already suffered months of deprivation, isolation, loss, and related mental health challenges. For many seniors on the team, this season will be their last opportunity to play organized football. In addition, many need sports to open the door to college admission and scholarships. In short, the players and coaches need — and have earned — the opportunity to play.”

In a similar letter from 70 Wakefield families, parents said APS has “the good fortune” of having football stadiums with ample capacity. They added that other recreational sports and other school systems are permitting spectators.

“Many of us have seen these rules successfully implemented for months with outdoor baseball, soccer, and travel and other sports,” their letter said.

Last November, APS reversed course on a decision not to allow winter sports after hearing from students and parents. All but two winter sports started their seasons in December.

Image via W-L Football/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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Morning Notes

More Snow Than Last Year? — “Winter officially starts in just two weeks (by the Dec. 1 meteorological definition), and, as such, we present our annual seasonal outlook… Overall, we expect slightly below-average snowfall, though around the median… 10 to 14 inches (compared with a 15.4-inch average, 11-inch median).” [Capital Weather Gang]

Sailor Sentenced for Child Exploitation — “A former U.S. Navy Seabee was sentenced today to 109 months in prison for transporting images of child sexual abuse. According to court documents, Martin Nieves Huizar, 37, of Arlington, was previously assigned to the U.S. Secretary of State’s overseas travel communications detail.” [U.S. Dept. of Justice]

Construction Crane Coming to Ballston — “Fans of bocce ball at a county park in Ballston will not find themselves displaced, although they soon may see a big crane swinging above their noggins. Arlington County Board members on Nov. 14 approved a request allowing the crane to operate within the government’s air rights above Glebe & Randolph Park. It will support redevelopment of the Harris Teeter site at 600 North Glebe Road.” [InsideNova]

Board Approves New Town Square Name — “The Arlington County Board today approved naming Green Valley’s Town Square for civic activist John Robinson, Jr. Robinson, often called the ‘Mayor of Green Valley,’ fought for decades against racial injustice and inequality in northern Virginia.” [Arlington County]

Shaved Ice Truck Coming to Arlington — “The pandemic did not dampen Noel and Jasmine Bourroughs’ first summer running a mobile Kona Ice truck in Fairfax and the City of Falls Church. In fact, their first season of operating the franchise was so successful they decided to expand. By next March, the couple anticipates opening two more trucks that serve Arlington and McLean.” [Tysons Reporter]

Wreath Promotion at New Pizzeria — From Nov. 27-Dec. 31, Colony Grill in Clarendon “invites guests to sponsor a veteran’s wreath to be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.” [Press Release]

Plane Flying Circles Around Pentagon — A small, single-engine plane registered to a government contractor was flying circles around the Pentagon last night, at an altitude of around 5,000 feet. [@InTheSkyDC/Twitter]

Alexandria Cancels Winter Sports — Alexandria City Public Schools has canceled its winter sports season, a week after Arlington Public Schools reversed course and decided to play most winter sports. [ALXnow]

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Arlington Public Schools will proceed with all but two winter sports, with some modifications, after talks with staff and neighboring school systems.

Swimming and diving, gymnastics, track and field, basketball, rifle and dance will proceed, but not wrestling — given the close contact that wrestlers engage in — or winter cheer, since competitive cheer can be offered outside later in the year, Superintendent Francisco Durán said in an email to families.

The decision comes after public outcry over the weekend to APS’s decision not to participate, which was announced on Thursday. People pointed to other school systems, which are allowing students to participate in winter sports.

“I have received many emails from students and families regarding my decision not to participate in Season 1 Winter athletic competition, due to current health metrics and safety concerns related to indoor sports,” Durán said.

The decision was discussed in the School Board meeting on Thursday, during which a few parents and School Board Member Tannia Talento asked him to reconsider.

Durán said he decided not to allow APS to participate in sports because it would not align with the return-to-school plan, which has been put on pause until 2021.

But with new modifications, such as a ban on in-person spectators and limited to no use of locker rooms, Durán said winter sports can move forward.

“We are exploring opportunities to livestream some competitions for spectators and will share information once arrangements have been made,” he said.

If community health conditions worsen, APS may modify or suspend athletics activities in consultation with health experts, he said.

“We will continue to monitor health metrics and work with school athletic staff and other school divisions to protect our athletes, coaches, employees, and families,” Durán said.

Tiffany McAvoy, the author of a petition to reverse APS’s decision, urged those who signed to email Durán and the School Board over the weekend.

“We want to fill up their inboxes so we can’t be ignored,” she wrote in her update to the Change.org petition.

In the first day after she created the petition, more than 1,800 people signed, she said in her update. Since then, the total has grown to 2,100 people as of Tuesday afternoon.

Student athletes and families will receive additional guidance closer to the start of the season, which begins Dec. 7.

“Our plans are evolving with the current conditions, and we will be flexible and responsive to the needs of our students whenever possible, assessing all options to safely support our students’ academic successes, mental health, and social-emotional well-being,” Durán said.

The Virginia High School League, a statewide sports league comprising public and private high schools, approved a Championship + 1 schedule in September that would allow students to play 60% of their sport’s regular season schedule, starting in December, with modified regional and state championships.

On Oct. 29, Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order that allows the proposed VHSL schedule to begin in December as scheduled. In a statement published by VHSL, Northam said the league been a partner during the pandemic and has drafted thoughtful guidelines for reinstating sports.

File photo

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Morning Notes

No, That Wasn’t ‘The Bachelor’ in Ballston — “Today, the world paused to consider what would have been the biggest news story of the past 72 hours: Wait — was the Bachelor filming in freaking Ballston? Well, that was at least the question posed by a whistleblower this afternoon, who tweeted out a photograph of a couple dining outdoors surrounded by a camera crew.” [Washingtonian, Twitter]

Pranksters Dialing Rosslyn-Based Trump Hotline — “Trump campaign staffers have been huddled on a noisy floor in the campaign’s Arlington, Virginia, headquarters fielding hundreds of calls a day on a hotline the campaign set up as they try to find instances of voter fraud, multiple sources told ABC News. But the hotline has… been bombarded with prank calls from people laughing or mocking them over Biden’s win before hanging up.” [ABC News, Washington Post]

Editor Rails Against Sports Decision, Media Gloom — “As for canceling the winter sports season… the coaches should have been part of the decision-making loop so they had a heads-up. Then again, maybe the pending arrival of our semi-comatose next president will lead the national media (which helped to haul him across the finish line) to stop the breathless 24/7 doom and gloom it relied on to eliminate Donald Trump, and we can start making decisions about the future like adults rather than weak-kneed scaredy-cats.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Couple Weds on GW Campus — “Law school graduate Ian Bryant-Smith and 2018 undergraduate alumna Sarah Breault gathered with a few friends at a high-top table in Kogan Plaza Thursday to sign their marriage papers and officially tie the knot. The couple, who had been dating since high school, said they decided to wed on campus because it was convenient, and their friends could easily access WiFi to project the ceremony to friends and family over Zoom.” [GW Hatchet]

ACPD Hails Four Retirees — “Last week we celebrated the distinguished careers of Captain Chris Hennigh, MPO Corporal Beth Lennon, Corporal Mike Lennon and Corporal Leo Garcia. Combined, they had over 100 years of service to the Arlington community and made significant impacts both within the agency and with those they served. We wish them all the best of luck in retirement and future endeavors!” [Facebook]

Holiday Closures Tomorrow — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Wednesday, Nov. 11, for Veterans Day. Trash and recycling services will operate on a normal schedule. Metered parking will not be enforced.” [Arlington County]

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) While many schools in Virginia will start their winter sports seasons next month, Arlington Public Schools will not follow suit.

Some parents and a School Board member urged Superintendent Francisco Durán to reverse course on this decision during the School Board meeting held that night. They argued that other jurisdictions in Virginia — including neighboring Fairfax County — are gearing up to play sports, and that not participating harms students in the short- and long-term.

“We’ve already taken school away from our kids,” said Megan Newfeld, a parent of a high school aged-son who plays golf. “It’s now enough.”

Not providing public school sports makes it harder for kids who cannot afford private or travel teams to improve, she said. Further, she added that all students who are competitive and looking to get recruited by colleges will be at a disadvantage.

Durán said the Virginia High School League (VHSL) allows each district to determine whether to participate in winter sports, which include swim and dive, basketball, wrestling, and indoor track and field. APS declined because it would not align with the return-to-school plan, he said.

“Participating in sports while continuing distance learning does not send a consistent message,” Durán said.

APS will revisit the metrics to see about participating in “season two” sports — sports like football, cross country and golf, which are usually played in the fall and which mostly are played outdoors — he said. Winter sports, by contrast, are mostly played indoors.

School Board member Tannia Talento asked Durán to reconsider the decision, in part because students are already doing conditioning on school grounds.

“These students are in these places already and doing work, and it’s at the high school, where they are more aware of conditions,” said Talento.

Although it is not consistent with the return to school plan, which is on hold, she said “we have to weigh everything individually and holistically and make compromises where we can.”

Yorktown High School boys basketball coach Joe Reed lamented the decision in a tweet, writing the his “heart goes out to my players, especially the seniors.”

An online petition calling for APS to reverse its decision has garnered more than 1,250 signatures as of 3:45 p.m.

“The benefits of team sports go far beyond exercise — improved academics, teamwork, leadership, positive mentorships and overall improved mental health,” the petition says. “For this school year, these factors are even more important as many Arlington teenagers are at home struggling with virtual learning and missing out on the normal activities of their high school years.”

“As the superintendent and school board of a county with large disparities of wealth, it is even more important that APS offer sports for those who cannot afford to play elsewhere,” the petition adds.

Late Friday afternoon, the pro-school-opening group Arlington Parents for Education also weighed in with a statement.

“Not only is VHSL proceeding with the season, but thousands of Arlington children have been participating in youth, club and travel sports all fall with absolutely no outbreaks,” the group said. “Durán’s only rationale on not allowing athletic competition is ‘consistency, ‘which is a self-fulfilling argument that since APS is failing to provide the in-person support and instruction many of our children need for academics, it may as well do the same for sports.”

The VHSL, a statewide sports league comprising public and private high schools, approved a Championship + 1 schedule in September that would allow students to play 60% of their sport’s regular season schedule, starting in December, with modified regional and state championships.

On Oct. 29, Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order that allows the proposed VHSL schedule to begin in December as scheduled. In a statement published by VHSL, Northam said the league been a partner during the pandemic and has drafted thoughtful guidelines for reinstating sports.

“Keeping our student athletes safe is critical during this pandemic,” Northam said. “I know I join many parents in looking forward to the safe return of school sports.”

VHSL Executive Director Dr. John W. “Billy” Haun welcomed the news, saying in the statement that the amendment “clears the way for all of our sports to play.” The league drafted guidelines for playing sports that include limits on attendees, cleaning and disinfecting recommendations, masking and social-distancing.

File photo

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High school athletes can start working out in-person next week, regardless of whether they chose distance- or hybrid-learning, Arlington Public Schools has announced.

Starting Monday, Oct. 12, APS will be using stadiums, tracks and fields for student workouts and athletic activities. While students exercise, the facilities will be closed to public use.

“During the APS athletic workouts, staff will be following COVID precautions and therefore all school facilities (stadiums, track, fields) will be closed to the public,” the school system said. “It is important that the community respect the closure and practice social distancing.”

APS is currently conducting remote learning only, but preparing to bring students back in a “hybrid” model, with most students spending two days per week in schools and other students able to opt to continue a distance learning-only program.

The school system previously said it would be screening kids daily, including temperature checks before participating in sports. Students are encouraged to check with their coach and school’s athletic webpage for more information.

School athletic facilities will be closed on the following days and times, according to APS.

Greenbrier Stadium (Yorktown) and fields
Monday, Thursday and Friday, closed from 3:30-8 p.m; Tuesday and Wednesday, closed from 3:30-7:15 p.m.

Wakefield Stadium and fields
Monday through Friday, closed 3:30-6:30 p.m.

Washington-Liberty Stadium and fields
Monday through Friday, closed 3:30-7:30 p.m.

File photo

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Morning Notes

Civ Fed to Study County’s Form of Gov’t — “Herbert Hoover was residing – albeit somewhat tenuously – in the White House the last time Arlington had a major change in its governance structure. Nearly 90 years later, the Arlington County Civic Federation may get the ball rolling on bringing that structure into the 21st century.” [InsideNova]

Biden Signs Defaced, Stolen — “A big sign promoting Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign in Arlington’s Aurora Highlands neighborhood was defaced with pro-President Trump graffiti sometime between Sunday evening and Monday morning,” reports Washingtonian. Separately, a recent Nextdoor post shows video of an older man stealing a Biden sign in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood. [Washingtonian]

Alleged Courthouse Flasher Arrested — “The victim was walking in the area when she felt the suspect allegedly grab her arm from behind her. As she turned around, she observed the male naked. The suspect then fled on foot. Arriving officers, with the assistance of Metro Transit Police, located the suspect in the area and took him into custody without incident.” [Arlington County]

ACPD Conducting Food Drive — Arlington County police “will be collecting donations at drive-thru donation stations on Tuesday, August 11, 2020 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  at three locations: Westover Baptist Church – 1125 Patrick Henry Drive, Police Headquarters – 1425 N. Courthouse Road, Giant Food – 2901 S. Glebe Road.” [Arlington County]

Crystal City Concert Series Goes Virtual — “With the health and safety of our residents and visitors in mind, Fridays at the Fountain is switching to an all virtual format. Tune in every Friday evening at 7pm, beginning August 7th, for an hour of live music streamed right to your home.” [National Landing BID]

High School Sports UpdateUpdated at 8:15 a.m. — “The Virginia High School League’s Executive Committee voted 34-1 Monday to delay the start of the 2020-21 high school sports season by implementing a compressed high school sports scheduling plan that would run as of now from Dec. 28-June 26. The schedule would begin with the winter sports season, starting in late December, followed by the traditional fall sports season and ending with the spring sports season.” [InsideNova]

Nearby: Break-ins at Eden Center “Multiple business were broken into at the Eden Center. Heavy police presence until further notice. Please avoid the area. No danger to public at this time. Any information to assist the investigation, please contact 703-241-5053. Thank you for your patience and understanding” [Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Deadline Set for Back to School Choice — “APS will provide two instructional delivery methods for families to choose from – hybrid in-person with physical distancing or full-time distance learning – when school resumes. Families will have until July 20 at 5 p.m. to select one of the two instructional delivery methods. If families do not select one of the two options by the deadline, their selection will automatically default to the hybrid instructional delivery model.” [Arlington Public Schools]

HS Athletes Understanding of Cancellations — “Senior track and field stars Isaiah Mefford of Wakefield High and Rebecca Stewart of Washington-Liberty could have won state crowns during the outdoor spring season. ‘It was disappointing for all of us, but people were getting sick. So something had to be done,’ Mefford said. Said Stewart: ‘With all that was happening with that virus, we couldn’t think about ourselves.'” [InsideNova]

D.C. Area Facing Tech Talent Gap — “The Capital Region is expected to add more than 130,000 digital tech jobs over the next five years, but the demand for tech talent continues to outpace supply, according to a new study… The talent gap will only continue to widen, unless much more is done to create a robust tech talent ecosystem that makes deliberate connections between digital tech pathways and diverse learners.” [Greater Washington Partnership]

Photo courtesy Buzz McClain

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