With work kicking off on the long-awaited, hotly debated Long Bridge Park aquatics and fitness center, Arlington officials are looking for some feedback on what programs and services they should offer at the new facility.
After years of wrangling over the exact design and cost of the facility, county leaders expect the $60 million project will include a 50-meter pool, room for diving at a variety of heights, and a family pool, complete with elements including “a lazy river, splash pad for tots, basketball, volleyball, lap lanes and a water slide.” The project will also include a new fitness center, billed as the largest one operated by the county, and an expansion of the adjacent park and its walkways.
However, a working group is still trying to get a sense for how Arlingtonians expect to use the space, and what programs staffers should offer at the facility. The county even released a new survey this week to help inform that group’s work.
Its areas of focus include questions on what days of the week and times of day residents envision attending the aquatics center, and queries about what sort of membership options the county should offer for people looking to use the center on a regular basis.
The survey also asks respondents for their opinions on what sort of equipment the county should offer in its fitness center — with options ranging from free weights to cardio machines — and what classes it should convene at both the pool and fitness center. Potential classes could focus on Crossfit, yoga, martial arts, scuba diving, lifeguard certification and a host of other areas.
The questionnaire also includes space for people to weigh in on exactly which features they want to see at the family-focused “leisure pool,” and seeks to gauge interest on aquatic activities like diving and water polo.
The working group is set to deliver its recommendations to the County Board by spring 2019. The county held a formal groundbreaking ceremony for the project back in July, and workers are currently in the process of clearing the site. The county hopes to open the center by 2021.
Vida Fitness Coming to Rosslyn Development — “Vida Fitness has signed a lease for 27,000 square feet at The Highlands in Rosslyn… The Highlands is a 1.2-million-square-foot mixed-use development from D.C.-based developer Penzance. The project’s groundbreaking [was Wednesday] and the first phase is slated for completion in the second quarter of 2021.” [Commercial Observer, Twitter]
Naked Man at Va. Square Metro Station — A naked man walked into the Virginia Square Metro station during yesterday evening’s rush hour. Police quickly responded, took the man into custody and requested medics to the scene to evaluate him for a possible drug overdose. [Twitter]
Survey: Road Improvements Wanted — “The public has an improving view of the Arlington government’s commitment to care of local roads, but there continues to be significant room for improvement, according to an updated customer-satisfaction survey. Only 55 percent of residents surveyed believe county roads are in satisfactory condition, while 23 percent are unsatisfied with the local government’s efforts and 23 percent are on the fence.” [InsideNova]
Stabbing on Patrick Henry Drive — A person was stabbed along the 3000 block of Patrick Henry Drive near the Arlington border last night. The victim’s injuries were reported to be life threatening, according to Fairfax County Police, which used its helicopter in an attempt to find the suspect. [WJLA, Twitter]
No Lottery Jackpot, But… — A $10,000 Mega Millions lottery ticket was sold at a 7-Eleven store in South Arlington. A single ticket in South Carolina matched all the numbers for the $1.6 billion jackpot in Tuesday’s drawing. [InsideNova]
Nearby: McLean Islamic Center Vs. Zoning Restrictions — The McLean Islamic Center is challenging county-imposed restrictions on worship and parking, which limit attendance “to mitigate the MIC’s impact on the surrounding neighborhood.” [Tysons Reporter]
Flickr pool photo by Michael Coffman
GMU Arlington Building Renamed — “Founders Hall, one of two major academic buildings on George Mason University’s Arlington Campus, was officially renamed Van Metre Hall after Mason’s Board of Visitors approved the change at its Oct. 10 meeting. The board’s action recognizes the generosity of the Van Metre Companies, a major regional builder that donated 37 acres in Ashburn, Virginia, to the George Mason University Foundation.” [George Mason University]
Overturned Vehicle on Washington Blvd — Near the tail end of yesterday morning’s rush hour a vehicle flipped on its roof along Washington Blvd, between Route 50 and Clarendon. The westbound lanes of Washington Blvd were blocked for a period of time. One person suffered minor injuries. [Twitter]
County Ranks High for Resident Satisfaction — “According to Arlington’s recent Community Satisfaction Survey, 88 percent of residents surveyed are satisfied with the overall quality of County services, 38 percentage points above the national average… Arlington also rated significantly above the national average for overall quality of life — 86 percent compared with 75 percent.” [Arlington County]
Local Credit Union Merger — “Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) announced today the merger of ACFCU with the Queen of Peace Arlington Federal Credit Union (QPAFCU). The combined asset size is $325 million, with nearly 22,500 members.” The Queen of Peace Arlington FCU is located in a church in the northeast corner of the Nauck neighborhood, near the back entrance to Army Navy Country Club. [CUInsight]
Venture-Funded Company Moving to Rosslyn — “FELA, the financial education and literacy company, today announced its rebrand to LifeCents. The name LifeCents is also the company’s health and wellness app that inspires and empowers people to improve their financial health and well-being… The team will move to Rosslyn, VA, at the beginning of next year to accommodate its continued growth.” [BusinessWire via Potomac Tech Wire]
Arlington Has Nightlife Advantage Over Tysons — Despite worries about competition from Tysons among local economic development boosters, the Fairfax County community doesn’t yet have Arlington’s nighttime vibrancy. Said one Tysons bar owner: “A lot of people leave here. They’re done with their job at 6:30 or 7 p.m. and they go home. They don’t come back. If they want to go out, they go to Arlington.” [Tysons Reporter]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
Arlington Youth Soccer Team Wins Nat’l Tourney — The Arlington Soccer Association’s U16 Boys team won the US Youth Soccer National Championship in Frisco, Texas over the weekend. The big win “is the first USYS Championship in the club’s history” and “caps off Arlington’s most successful year in its almost 50-year history with the U14 Girls team also advancing to the National Championships,” according to the association. [PDF, US Youth Soccer]
Officials Prep for Decal Decision — “If County Board members in September decide to kill off Arlington tax decals that have been a fixture on local windshields for a half-century, the two elected officials who will be tasked with implementing the decision say they can make it happen. The question that still hangs in the air, though, is whether eliminating the decal will make it more likely scofflaws will get away with cheating the tax man.” [InsideNova]
Arlington Theaters: A Tourist Attraction? — Arlington’s theater scene “is bigger and better than ever,” according to Arlington’s tourism promotion agency. [Stay Arlington]
Survey: Keep ANC Open to Burials As Long As Possible — “The vast majority of respondents to a Department of Defense survey favor keeping Arlington National Cemetery operational for as long as possible, even if it means tightening up on those who are deemed eligible for burial there.” [InsideNova]
As remaining burial plots become more scarce, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) has released a second public survey regarding its future.
If current burial eligibility policies remain in place, the cemetery will reach full capacity in 23 years, according to cemetery officials. In the first survey, conducted July of 2017, 93 percent of respondents said keeping that keeping ANC’s hallowed grounds open to burials long into the future was important to them.
The second survey specifically asks which veterans or active military members should be qualified for a burial, including questions relating to the eligibility of those with Purple Hearts, prisoners of war, elected officials once on active duty, and World War II veterans.
Results from the first survey showed that many respondents felt that eligibility should be given to those killed in action or on operational missions, Medal of Honor and other high award recipients, and former prisoners of war.
Current eligibility is currently more flexible, including prisoners of war and retired veterans who had served at least one day of active duty.
The survey notes that another cemetery expansion is expected to add additional burial plots, but it is not a long-term solution.
“The next possible expansion, into the area south of the cemetery (the Southern Expansion; around 40 acres) will add about 10-15 years of life to the cemetery – closing the cemetery to new burials by the mid-2050’s,” the survey says. “This does not achieve the objective or the desire of previous survey respondents to keep ANC open for new burials well into the future.”
(Updated at 1:15 p.m.) It’s not cheap to live in one of the best places for millennials.
That’s according to figures from the Economic Policy Institute, which has come out with an interactive calculator to determine how much it costs individuals and families to comfortably live in Arlington and other U.S. counties.
For a couple with two children in Arlington, it costs about $9,493 per month to live comfortably, according to EPI, or just over $113,915 per year.
The highest monthly costs were attributed to housing, at an average of $2,040 per month — for a “modest” but “sanitary” two-bedroom apartment — but childcare costs in the county were just behind it at $1,801 per month.
Couples without children can make a lot less while still living comfortably in Arlington. Annual pay of $67,840 is what it takes for two people to live here comfortably, without kids, childcare costs and the requisite additional bedrooms.
Single Arlingtonians, though, have to make $56,221 annually to live comfortably — only $11,619 less than a couple does.
Across the Potomac, a D.C. family with two kids needs to bring in $123,975 a year, according to the EPI analysis, while the same family in Manassas City can get by comfortably on $96,314.
Notably, EPI’s methodology didn’t mention any consideration for student loans. There is, however, is a category for “other necessities.”
File photo. Hat tip to James Breiling.
Arlington Cultural Affairs plans on surveying artists within a 50-mile radius of the county as part of a proposal to bring affordable artist housing to Arlington.
A feasibility study said that such a survey would “definitively reveal whether a market for artist housing exists and whether an affordable housing-funded model… would be considered affordable by prospective, income-qualifying tenants.”
The survey will ask artists to “express their interest” in the affordable housing project and detail their “current and future needs in a live/work space,” according to an event page for a presentation and question and answer session which will kick off the “Arts Market” survey.
That presentation, on Thursday (March 22) from 6-8 p.m. at the Arlington Arts Center, will precede a reception where artists can take the survey and mingle.
The survey is expected to cost between $30,000 and $42,500 and would be paid for by the nonprofit Arlington Foundation for Arts and Innovation, which also paid for the preliminary feasibility study.
Artspace, the national arts non-profit based in Minneapolis, Minn., that is collaborating with Arlington Cultural Affairs, has so far led four focus groups to discuss area artist housing needs, according to the study.
The feasibility found that “affordable housing and live/work space was expressed as a need, particularly in the context of anticipated rising rents and the increasing lack of affordable for-sale housing” and cited community feedback that there wasn’t a central artistic gathering place.
That study pointed out four potential neighborhoods for the project — Virginia Square, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, and the Four Mile Run Valley — but specifically noted that central Rosslyn didn’t make sense for the project because of the density and traffic congestion.
Artspace has already finished two projects in the area, in Washington and in Mount Rainier, Md., and is set to launch another in Silver Spring, Md., later this year.
“It is clear that area jurisdictions are finding that communities are strengthened and made vibrant by a strong arts presence,” wrote Jim Byers, the Arlington Cultural Affairs marketing director, in an email to ARLnow.com.
“The Arts Market Survey is the next step towards determining how Arlington might best leverage the creative energies that exist in our region and encourage still more artists to make their home here.”
Golf Course Tax Bill Passes — A bill that would provide a massive tax break to two Arlington country clubs has passed the Virginia General Assembly. The bill, if signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam (D), would cost Arlington $1.5 million or more in tax revenue. [Washington Post]
Military Couple Fights Wife’s Deportation — The wife of a retired Army special forces veteran was to face deportation in an Arlington-based immigration court next week, but the Dept. of Homeland Security is now offering to drop the proceedings. Prior to the reversal, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) called said via social media: “Military families should not be targeted like this. It’s unconscionable.” [Military Times, Twitter]
Cherry Blossom Bloom Prediction — The National Park Service expects peak bloom for the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms to take place March 17-20. [PoPville]
Beyer’s GOP Challenger — “The Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D) used a Feb. 28 meeting of the Arlington County Republican Committee to introduce himself to the county’s GOP rank-and-file. ‘I look forward to the campaign,’ said Thomas Oh… an Army veteran and currently a contractor in Falls Church.” [InsideNova]
County Seeking Budget Feedback — Arlington County is seeking feedback on its proposed budget. The online survey asks residents to weigh in on various priorities, including county employee raises, economic development, Metro funding, school funding, infrastructure investment and affordable housing. [SurveyMonkey]
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Rosslyn residents are a bit happier with the neighborhood than they were last year, but they’d still like a new grocery store.
The results from the Rosslyn Business Improvement District survey, conducted in December 2017, were released earlier this month and point to a growing desire for healthy food options.
“Better grocery stores came up as the top desire for residents and the second for those who live in, work in, and/or visit Rosslyn,” the report said.
Currently, an aging Safeway and a newer Target Express are the main grocery options.
However, Rosslyn residents might be getting a new grocery store at some point in the near future, noted a Rosslyn BID rep, if an approved Monday Properties development at 1401 Wilson Boulevard moves forward. Plans are currently is on hold and a grocery tenant has not been announced for the location.
The survey also found that neighborhood negativity was down slightly, but there were areas with room for improvement.
Fewer residents expressed negative feelings about shopping options — down from 64 percent to 58 percent. Agreement that longer hours would get people to spend more time in Rosslyn dropped by three percent to 52 percent. Just over half of respondents noted that longer or later restaurant or shopping hours of operation would encourage them to linger in Rosslyn.
Survey takers said healthier food and more sit-down restaurants would be a welcome addition.
“Whether with food or retail, the overall consensus is a strong desire for more and better options, with local options playing an underlying theme,” said the survey results. “For dining, the public is unsatisfied with the limited sit-down dining options and desires more diverse and full-service restaurants. Additionally, a desire for healthy food options (including vegan, vegetarian, and organic) emerged in both dining and grocery options.”
Overall satisfaction with Rosslyn as a place to work went up from 87 percent to 91 percent.
“We see an overwhelmingly positive shift in perception from 2016 to 2017,” said Maureen Goldman, Rosslyn BID marketing and communications director. She said she was pleasantly surprised by the survey results and that the company would be capitalizing on the sentiment shift to make Rosslyn more of a destination.
“Perception change is a long game, it isn’t something that happens overnight,” she said.
Respondents were able to write-in the first words that came to mind when thinking about Rosslyn. The BID didn’t provide exact word count figures, but the group created a word bubble visualizing the word size corresponding with the frequency of the response.
The largest word on the chart was “convenient,” followed by “accessible,” “corporate,” and “clean.” Fewer respondents appeared to use words like “walkable,” “nice,” “food,” or “beautiful” to identify Rosslyn.
“Boring” was no longer within the top ten words used to describe the neighborhood.
Photo via Google Maps
Once a year, we poll all of our readers and use the data collected to help set the direction of ARLnow.com for the year to come.
The time has arrived to unveil the 2018 ARLnow reader survey, which is now live and ready for your feedback.
We take reader feedback seriously, so if you have a couple of minutes, we would greatly appreciate if you can answer some or all of the questions below. If you’re on mobile, or if the survey is otherwise not working, click here to open it in a new window.
A survey has found that Arlington County residents favor bicycling and support more separate bike lanes.
The survey, conducted by the county’s local transportation research group Mobility Lab and county bicycle education program BikeArlington, found that 89 percent of respondents said they would like to bike more often, and 62 percent said that more separated bikes lanes would help them do that.
More than 1,200 people took the survey at a series of events in August and September, including the Arlington County Fair and Nauck Civic and Community Pride Day. Of those people, 94 percent reported being Arlington residents.
“[The survey] offers yet more evidence that bicycling is becoming a legitimate option for people to get to work in the Arlington and greater Washington, D.C. region,” a Mobility Lab spokesman said. “Mobility Lab recommends that more spending be made available for safer infrastructure – infrastructure that is far easier, faster, and less expensive to get up and running than that for cars and even transit.”
The survey was part of the county’s outreach process for updating the Bike Element of its 2008 Master Transportation Plan.
Staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services have said previously that the time is right for a revamp given the new “technologies, facilities and best practices” around bicycling.
Metro is seeking feedback on proposed changes to numerous bus lines, including the plans for new Columbia Pike service as well as other services that run through Arlington County.
Under a series of proposed changes put forward for Metrobus in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, Metro has put forward a plan to “restructure” service on Columbia Pike, in keeping with Arlington’s transit plan for the Pike.
A so-called “Premium Transit Network” is planned for the Pike and is set to open next summer instead of the cancelled streetcar. It will offer limited-stop service and “new or enhanced connections between Crystal City, Pentagon City and Skyline City.”
The buses are set to have a unique look, have additional service in Arlington to keep up with demand and consolidate all current Metrobus routes — the 16A, 16B, 16G, 16H, 16J, 16K and 16P — under the new network.
Other proposed changes to bus lines that run through Arlington are:
- 4A, 4B (Pershing Drive to Arlington Blvd)
Provide additional 4B trips in response to ridership, with the 4A operating only during weekday rush hours, with weekday midday and evening service eliminated. The county has proposed the 4A become a local ART bus route in FY 2020.
- 7A, 7F (Lincolnia to North Fairlington)
Modify service to operate via Pentagon City between the Pentagon and Shirlington to serve Pentagon City. New timetables will reflect an increase in the time between buses of approximately five minutes to accommodate additional travel time between the Pentagon and Pentagon City.
- 10E (Hunting Point to the Pentagon)
Eliminate 10E service to Rosslyn, and have the route operate between Pentagon and Hunting Point in Alexandria only.
- 22A, 22B (Barcroft to South Fairlington)
Modify Route 22A to operate via Pentagon City between the Pentagon and Shirlington to serve Pentagon City. New timetables would reflect an increase in the time between buses of approximately five minutes to accommodate additional travel time between the Pentagon and Pentagon City. Route 22B would be eliminated, with alternate service on Metrobus 22A and 22C.
Service would be every eight minutes during rush hour between Pentagon City and the Braddock Road Metro station on all trips to better match Metro’s Blue and Yellow lines.
Per a Metro press release, there are several ways community members can have their say:
- Complete an online survey.
- Fill out a paper survey and drop it in collection boxes located near the fare gates at Metrorail stations closest to the impacted routes. There is no need to take multiple surveys.
- Provide feedback to outreach staff September 6 – September 21, at designated times and locations on-board buses or at Metrorail stations.
- Attend an open house Tuesday, September 26, 2017, beginning at 5:30 p.m. followed by a public hearing from 6 – 7 p.m. Speaker registration is onsite only. Venue: Metro Headquarters Building (600 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001)
The deadline for providing feedback is 9 a.m. on Monday, October 2.
Arlington County is updating the section on bicycling in its Master Transportation Plan, and is asking residents to help shape how it should now look.
The Bicycle Element of the plan last received an update in 2008, and now staff from the county’s Department of Environmental Services said the time is right for a revamp given the new “technologies, facilities and best practices” around bicycling. Staff said they will get feedback from a wide range of people, including those in civic associations and business organizations.
Currently, the plan looks to increase bicycle usage, make bicycling safer in the county, add to the network of bike trails and paths and integrate biking with other methods of transit.
“The wealth of expertise in our community, and among our County staff, will help us improve mobility, safety, comfort and convenience for bicyclists and make it even more attractive to ride a bicycle as a way of getting around for people of all ages and interests,” staff wrote.
Anyone can have their say at the monthly meetings of the Master Transportation Plan Bicycle Element Working Group, as well as via an online survey through September 22. Included in the survey is a question about what the county can do to encourage more bicycle riding, with the following answers offered as options.
- Offer community bike rides.
- Educate drivers.
- Add more Bikeshare stations.
- Add more bike parking.
- Add more separated bike lanes.
- Improve the condition/maintenance of the existing bike lanes and trails.
- Educate bicyclists and pedestrians.
- Improve the connected bike network.
- Add more wayfinding signs to help people find destinations.
- Add more bicycle or multi-use trails.
County staff and working group members will also hold a series of meet and greet events at various locations, including today (Wednesday) at the Clarendon Metro station farmers market from 3-7 p.m.
There, residents can discuss the plan updates, take the survey and give feedback in person. Other meet and greets beyond tonight’s event are as follows:
- September 13: Lee Harrison Shopping Center
- September 15: Parking Day near Arlington County Courthouse (more details to come)
- September 16: Nauck Community Day
The County Board is likely to carry out an initial review of the update at a work session in late fall. Afterward, county staff will begin community outreach on how to implement the new plan, and finding projects for new or improved bike facilities in the county. An updated plan is expected to be adopted in summer 2018.
Millennials in Arlington appear most concerned about adding more transit options, removing on-street parking and finding new locations for public meetings, at least according to a county-run online forum.
The forum is part of a wider push by the county to get more millennials involved in local government and civic life. Arlington was named the best city for millennials in the U.S. by the website Niche, with the millennial generation making up between 30-40 percent of the county’s population of just over 220,000.
The most popular suggestion on the forum — as determined by a Reddit-style up-voting system — is to expand transit options in North Arlington, which has nine “likes.”
I’d love to embrace “Millennialism” and be car-free, but the inconsistency in transit options in parts of North Arlington is difficult — there is minimal bus service and a lack of bikeshare stations, even near Marymount University. Adding bikeshare locations along the northern portion of Glebe Road from Lee Highway up to Chain Bridge would be helpful in continuing to connect this area with other parts of the County!
Just below that is a proposal to remove on-street parking, to encourage more walking and biking in neighborhoods.
Along the major corridors we should remove subsidized on-street parking, to encourage walk-able and bike-able neighborhoods. Many of these on-street parking spots reduce visibility at cross walks and cause dooring and blocking situations for bike lanes, increasing danger and reducing foot traffic. Remove a few strategic parking spaces along the pike and Roslyn [sic] Ballston corridor and use that space to widen the sidewalks or add bike lanes.
Following that, two suggestions are tied for third with seven likes: requests to change the locations of public meetings to “places millennials frequent,” as opposed to always at community centers or schools, and to find a “transit solution” for Columbia Pike after the canceled streetcar project. (The Pike’s “Premium Transit Network” is set to launch next summer.)
A request to “figure out how to bring reasonably priced housing to Arlington” was among those with six up-votes.
A full list of suggestions and the number of likes they received, in parentheses, is below.
- Expanding transit options (9)
- Remove on-street parking (8)
- Different public meeting locations (7)
- A transit solution for Columbia Pike (7)
- Reasonably priced housing market (6)
- More multi-use properties (6)
- Replacing the parking lot next to Whole Foods in Clarendon with a multi-story parking garage (6)
- Affordable child care options (5)
- More public art along Columbia Pike (5)
- More programs for renters who want to be more energy efficient (4)
- Programming for those aged 20-50 at county buildings (4)
- Dedicated bike lane on Washington Blvd (4)
- Engaging the county’s LGBTQ population (3)
- Better advertisement of the county’s performing arts groups (2)
- Expanding Arlington Alerts to include community news (2)
- More transparent policing (2)
- A dog park for Crystal City (2)
- Bike paths on westbound Arlington Blvd (2)
- A bridge on the Bluemont Trail at the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. George Mason Drive (1)
- Add sidewalks to encourage more walking (1)
- Reclaim some community centers to use as elementary schools (-1)
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
A draft plan aims to build a clearer approach for county officials engaging Arlington residents on new projects.
Staff in the county’s Office of Communication and Public Engagement put together the plan over the past four months, with the goal of enhancing the engagement process, building more trust and getting a more diverse range of participants having their say.
They met with members of the community and took feedback on the public engagement process — sometimes referred to as the “Arlington Way” — particularly around new capital projects.
A survey is now open for county residents to share their concerns on how previous processes have gone and their priorities for how public engagement can be improved. Based on staff’s preliminary sessions with community leaders, concerns have been raised about communication around projects, how costs change and the impact on nearby neighbors and businesses.
That follows a number of instances in which residents complained about a botched engagement process for projects in their neighborhoods. Examples include opposition to new baseball and softball field at Bluemont Park, which was eventually built with little controversy after a compromise was reached, and stringent opposition to the proposed relocation of Fire Station 8, which was scrapped after neighbors of the current station and the proposed new site both spoke out against it and said they were “blindsided” by the plan.
As it stands now, the draft plan would develop a template for public engagement that would better lay out the details of a project early on while also identifying stakeholders like civic associations, residents and commissions.
Throughout, the county would look to use a range of tools to communicate “early and often” about a project, including on signs, its website, newsletters, emails and postcards among others. Staff would also make an effort to show how feedback from the community influenced a project, and show a wider range of opinions on a project, including when briefing the Arlington County Board.
The plan would also look to establish a “common set of ground rules” for in-person and online discussions, all to encourage “civil dialogue and respect.” An engagement boot camp is mooted for spring or summer next year for staff, civic associations and commissions.
To increase the diversity of participants that get involved in public dialogue about county projects, staff recommended partnering with organizations to engage with “hard to reach” communities, and establishing liaisons to help out. There will also be an effort to ensure diversity on county boards and commissions.
The new plan is scheduled to launch this fall.