49°Mostly Cloudy

by ARLnow.com — November 6, 2015 at 10:10 am 0

"Peacock" tree in Bailey's Branch Park (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

Task Force Recommends TJ Site — Ten months after the Arlington County Board nixed a proposed new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, a working group appointed by the Board has concluded that the site is, in fact, the best one for a new school. The group also recommended that the School Board starts planning for a second new South Arlington elementary school, most likely in the Pentagon City area. [InsideNova]

Election Day Bar Crawl Was a Bust — Organizers of an election day bar crawl in Clarendon say they have learned “that people are not up for celebrating democracy on a Tuesday night of a work week.” Despite giving out 65-70 bracelets for the crawl, which was to encourage younger people to vote, one of the participating bars — Whitlow’s — didn’t see a single customer wearing the bracelets. [Washington Post]

‘Suburban North Arlington Is Going to Develop’ — The urbanist blog Greater Greater Washington says that development is inevitable for Lee Highway. The website is encouraging residents of the car-oriented corridor to participate in a county-led planning process for Lee Highway that’s currently underway, including a “visioning charrette” this weekend. [Greater Greater Washington]

Ray’s Maintains Steak Supremacy — Despite an influx of flashy new steakhouses in the District, Ray’s the Steaks in Courthouse still has the best-tasting steak around, and for a lot less than the newcomers, says food critic Todd Kliman. [Washingtonian]

W-L, Yorktown Rivalry Game Tonight — Yorktown will face Washington-Lee in a cross-county rivalry game with playoff implications. Both football squads could make the playoffs with a win tonight. A win also comes with the unofficial distinction of being this year’s Arlington County champion. [Washington Post]

M.J. Stewart Back at UNC Following Suspension — Former Yorktown standout M.J. Stewart is back leading the University of North Carolina’s secondary, after an off-campus altercation led to an assault and battery charge and a suspension from the team. [Daily Tarheel]

Tuckahoe 5K Road Closures — The annual Tuckahoe 5K race will take place Saturday. Arlington police will close portions of Williamsburg Blvd, Little Falls Road, 26th Street and Underwood Street between 7:30 and 10:30 a.m. to accommodate the race. [Arlington County]

Dems Captured All But One Precinct — The two Democratic County Board members-elect nearly swept every voting precinct in the county during Tuesday’s election. Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey together captured all but one precinct in Arlington. In the Madison precinct of North Arlington, a “bastion of Republicanism in an otherwise true-blue community,” Republican-endorsed independent Michael McMenamin finished second to Christian Dorsey. [InsideNova]

Jury Duty Questionnaires Due — If you were among the seven percent of Arlington and Falls Church residents who received a juror qualification questionnaire in the mail last month, it’s likely past due by now. Recipients are required by law to return the form within 10 days of receiving it. [Arlington County]

Development Forum Next Week — Registration is closing at noon today for a forum on development in Arlington County. Speakers at the event, scheduled for Nov. 10, include Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins, Rosslyn BID President Mary-Claire Burick and Shooshan Company COO Kelly Shooshan. [CREW Northern Virginia]

Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk

by Heather Mongilio — October 16, 2015 at 10:30 am 0

A working group tasked with analyzing sites for a new South Arlington elementary school is continuing to set its sights on the land surrounding Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Working group chairman Greg Greeley presented the latest analysis to the County Board and Arlington School Board during a joint working session yesterday (Thursday). Arlington Public Schools is aiming to open a new school by 2019 in order to handle a 925 seat deficit.

The working group analyzed about 20 different locations, included those owned solely by Arlington Public Schools, solely by the county, jointly by APS and the County and privately owned. From there, the group narrowed it down to three finalists: Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Gunston Middle School/Oakridge Elementary School and Drew Model Elementary School.

With each site, the working group looked out how the new elementary school would fit on the property. Of the three sites, the working group preferred the Thomas Jefferson site.

In January, the County Board scuttled the school system’s plan to build an elementary school on the TJ site, following vocal protests from residents concerns about the impact to adjacent parkland.

County Board member John Vihstadt echoed those concerns, and brought up a proposal that he said could preserve the parkland while still getting the school built nearby.

Vihstadt introduced a letter from Snell Properties, which owns the Dominion Arms complex at 333 S. Glebe Road, offering APS land for a school free of charge, in exchange for the ability to build a new development with more density.

The Sun Gazette has more about the proposal and the mixed reaction to it.

“Without getting into the pros and cons, the merits and demerits of this potential new location, I, for one, am certainly interested in the pursuit of looking at this, completely scouring the pros and cons of whether this is an option or not. We are making a decision for 50 years,” Vihstadt said.

At the time of the working session between the two boards, not all members had read the letter, including School Board Chair Emma Violand-Sánchez and Superintendent Patrick Murphy, who voiced concerns about the potential for delaying the opening of a new school past 2019.

“Some of the concerns I think is we have a process in place and we have to respect the process. The South Arlington working group has done a fabulous job, and I would hate to see something new come into play and derail and delay given the 2019 timeline,” Murphy said.

Vihstadt asked the working group and School Board about possible alternatives to find at least 725 new seats, a request made previously by the County Board in January.

The School Board looked at additions to Barcroft and other elementary schools but they would not add enough seats, said Violand-Sánchez. School Board member Abby Raphael also raised concerns over the costs of additions versus a new school.

“Clearly additions are not as cost effective as  a new school. Given the limited funding that we have for capital. I would be very surprised if we had to go back to what we called plan B,” Raphael said. “And I kind of find it inconceivable that we’re not going to reach agreement on a new site for a school in south Arlington. We have to. We have to the seats in the fall of 2019.”

A full report from the working group on potential South Arlington school sites is due to the County Board in November.

by ARLnow.com — August 28, 2015 at 9:45 am 1,816 0

Flag mural on Virginia Square VFW post (photo courtesy @jbester)

Middle School to Hold ‘Road Show’ — Thomas Jefferson Middle School Principal Keisha Boggan and administrators will be holding a neighborhood meet and greet this coming Tuesday. The “TJMS Road Show” will feature “hot dogs, drinks, music, and good conversation,” with four stops in the Barcroft, Westmont Gardens, Fillmore Gardens, and Oakland Park/Lyon Park areas. The first day of school is Tuesday, Sept. 8. [Arlington Public Schools]

Homeland Security Renews Ballston Lease — In a bit of good news for commercial real estate in Arlington, the Dept. of Homeland Security has renewed a 120,435 square foot lease on its office at Two Ballston Plaza (1110 N. Glebe Road). [CityBizList]

MONA Sponsors Backpacks — The group Mothers of North Arlington has sponsored 18 backpacks for children at the local shelter Doorways for Women and Families. “Many of MONA’s 2800 members donated items for 18 backpacks for children from age 1 to 18,” the group said in a press release. “The backpacks included all the usual school necessities (paper, pencils, glue, crayons, binders, lunch box, etc.); some also had scientific calculators, umbrellas, digital watches, and diapers for the youngest recipients. Each backpack was stocked with $75-100 in gift cards to Target for school clothes (nearly $1,600 in total).”

Arlington Man Killed in Fairfax County Crash — A 51-year-old Arlington man died yesterday afternoon in a crash in Fairfax County. Virginia State Police say Jerry Knight was riding a moped on an I-66 exit ramp when he was struck by a vehicle and killed. Police are seeking information on the striking vehicle and its driver. [Patch]

Photo courtesy @jbester

by ARLnow.com — May 20, 2015 at 11:00 am 5,351 0

Intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Jackson Street (via Google Maps)A 14-year-old boy was struck by a car near Thomas Jefferson Middle School and seriously injured this morning.

The collision happened just after 7:30 at the intersection of 2nd Street S. and S. Jackson Street, a busy route for students walking to and from school.

The boy suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries and was transported to Inova Fairfax Hospital, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.

It was not immediately clear how the crash happened nor whether the teen was in the crosswalk when he was struck.

Image via Google Maps. Hat tip to Smiley456.

by ARLnow.com — February 10, 2015 at 10:00 am 3,034 0

The proposed Thomas Jefferson elementary school site, put on hold by the Arlington County Board
Two weeks ago, the Arlington County Board said “not now” to a planned elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

Opponents of the plan cheered the County Board’s action, saying that plans to build on the TJ site would eliminate land that could later be used as parkland. Arlington Public Schools will now go back and conduct more studies and community engagement in order to figure out how to deal with its capacity crisis in south Arlington.

Supporters of the school plan said delaying the construction of urgently needed school capacity could result in 45 new trailer classrooms next to south Arlington schools by 2018.

While the “Save TJ Park” group that opposed APS’ proposed placement of the school was the most vocal during the lead up to the County Board vote, those who supported the school are now making their voices better heard.

In a letter to the Sun Gazette, Arlington resident Nathan Zee writes that the County Board decision shows that there is “an unquestionable divide” between north and south Arlington.

“The County Board’s direction to APS to keep working with the community until consensus is reached is nothing short of a total absolution of leadership and decision-making responsibility,” Zee writes. “There could always be more planning, but the time to act was now.”

In order to find out (unscientifically) how the community as a whole feels, we’re putting it to a poll: do you support the County Board’s decision?

by Ethan Rothstein — January 28, 2015 at 5:40 pm 4,000 0

The proposed Thomas Jefferson elementary school site, put on hold by the Arlington County BoardIt’s back to the drawing board for school administrators trying to keep up with soaring elementary enrollment in South Arlington.

A County Board vote Tuesday night threatens to turn elementary schools south of Route 50 into virtual trailer parks — as Arlington Public Schools administrators scramble to come up with ideas, studies and public support for new school construction.

The County Board voted 4-1 to say “not now,” to the School Board’s request to build a new elementary school on county-owned land next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School. Libby Garvey, a former School Board chair, cast the dissenting vote.

The School Board previously vowed to provide 725 new elementary school seats in South Arlington by September 2018, but last night’s decision has put that goal in doubt. Those voting against the school said APS didn’t make enough of a case to the community that the TJ site was the best option.

“I don’t think the School Board organized the data and presented the data in a way that everyone in South Arlington can say ‘I see what they’re doing… this is the best they’re going to be able to do,'” County Board Chair Mary Hynes, also a former School Board hair, told ARLnow.com today. “The broader community does not understand that.”

Garvey, however, blasted the decision.

“South Arlington needs a new elementary school and they need it now,” she told ARLnow.com.

According to a press release, the School Board can re-submit their request to the county to build next to TJ, but only after it provides a full analysis of sites and potential additions in South Arlington, including “feasible non-construction strategies.” The analysis must include, Mary Hynes said, “tradeoffs with parking, green space and traffic implications.”

The School Board must also have “as close to final estimate” of what funding it needs from the county on top of the $50.25 million approved in the 2014 bond referendum. Initial estimates peg an underground parking deck at $7 million, money not included in the bond question.

The School Board has already approved an alternative plan for South Arlington elementary schools: building additions onto Randolph and Barcroft elementary schools. But School Board member Abby Raphael told ARLnow.com that it’s far from certain that the Board will move forward with those plans.

“In light of what the County Board’s decision is, the School Board is going to have to consider what our next steps are,” Raphael said.

Yorktown High School classroom trailersIf no permanent seats are built by 2018, elementary schools south of Route 50 will be over capacity by 894 students, according to APS projections. If no alternative, temporary solutions are found, that would mean 45 more relocatable classrooms would have to be installed at South Arlington elementary schools, more than double the 38 currently in use.

In APS’ presentation for the County Board last night, schools staff laid out the realities of South Arlington’s enrollment growth. Based on current projections, the area needs either two new elementary schools, one new school and three additions on existing schools, or six additions by 2024. APS projects that 1,384 additional students will need elementary school seats in South Arlington in the next 10 years.

“I thought the schools did a spectacular job in their presentation and clearly addressed the concerns that had been expressed,” by opponents, Garvey said today. “I was extremely disappointed… We’re building a new school in North Arlington and now we’re telling South Arlington ‘oh well, never mind.'”

Raphael said the County Board’s decision was “frustrating” and felt the School Board had done more than enough to inform the community and justify its decision.

“I’m not sure that the County Board and maybe some of the community have a full appreciation of the work we’ve been doing since 2011,” Raphael said. “There’s extensive documentation on all the feasibility studies we’ve done. I don’t know what else the county is expecting us to do for that.”


by ARLnow.com — January 28, 2015 at 9:30 am 2,066 0

WJLA ticker in Rosslyn

County Board Nixes TJ Elementary Plan — The Arlington County Board voted last night to refuse to allow Arlington Public Schools to build a new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, at least for now. Libby Garvey, a former school board member, was the lone dissenting voice on the 4-1 vote. She agreed with the school system that new elementary school seats are urgently needed in South Arlington. The board majority said the school system needs to go back and study alternatives again, since the elementary school could have negative impacts on the surrounding community. “You have to be a little more crowded for awhile,” County Board Chair Mary Hynes told school officials. [Washington Post, Arlington County]

Board Approves Overnight Gas Sales at 7-Eleven — Just down the street from Thomas Jefferson Middle School, on S. Glebe Road, exists a 7-Eleven convenience store and gas station that heretofore has not been allowed to sell gas from midnight to 6:00 a.m. The condition was put in place by the County Board in 1992, due to concern about traffic, noise and other neighborhood impacts. On Saturday the Board approved, with neighborhood support, a use permit change that will allow gas to be pumped 24/7. [InsideNova]

Board Approves Pentagon City Apartment Building — Also on Saturday, the County Board approved a new 20 story, 453 unit apartment building at 400 Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City. The developer of the project agreed to a nearly $10 million community benefits package and to building to LEED Gold sustainability certification standards. [InsideNova]

Jury Duty Phone Scam Returns — Once again, someone is calling Arlington residents, claiming to be a law enforcement officer and demanding payment over the phone because the call recipient supposedly failed to appear for jury duty. As it did last March, the police department is reminding residents that this is a scam. [Arlington County Police]

Octogenarian Still in the Marriage Business — Our Man in Arlington columnist Charlie Clark has a profile of Gerald Williams, who at age 82 is still performing 25-30 civil marriage ceremonies per week from a basement office in Courthouse. Williams was also profiled in a short documentary called “Arlington is for Lovers?” that was produced in 2010. [Falls Church News-Press]

by Ethan Rothstein — January 20, 2015 at 2:45 pm 1,671 0

(Updated at 5:55 p.m.) The working group charged by the county to help decide the fate of the green space next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School says it was unable reach a final consensus.

Arlington Public Schools is eyeing land surrounding the middle school as the site for a new $50 million, 725-seat elementary school for south Arlington. Those funds were adopted by the School Board as part of the 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Plan last June, and approved as part of the schools bond referendum by Arlington voters in November.

The 20-member Thomas Jefferson Working Group was formed by the Arlington County Board last year, after APS announced the middle school’s surrounding area was its “preferred” location for a new elementary school. The group has met 10 times over the last five months but still couldn’t reach an agreement on how best to proceed.

“While the group could not reach full consensus within tight constraints, we do agree on strong guidelines under which a new school, if approved, could be fitted into this important site without harming TJ Park or the many community activities there,” working group chair Carrie Johnson said in a press release.

An advocacy group, Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park, formed soon after APS announced it was considering the TJ site, and the Friends group has been expressing vocal opposition to the placement of a new school on existing parkland at the 27-acre site.

“Building adjacent to the middle school ignores the county’s future recreation needs by permanently converting parkland and valuable open space to non-park and recreation uses,” Friends group President Jim Presswood said in a December press release. “We agree that Arlington needs more seats for students, but we should not have to choose between schools and parks.”

The group now leaves the decision of whether to build on the site up to the County Board. If the Board elects not to build on the site, the elementary school seats the school could have provided to South Arlington would come from additions at Barcroft and Randolph Elementary Schools, an alternative plan the School Board has already approved but is more expensive than building a new school.

Johnson will present the working group’s recommendations to the County Board at its Saturday meeting, and the Board is expected to respond during its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 27. During its deliberations, the working group engaged the community with open meetings, surveys and involving local civic associations in the discussion.

Any plan to build a school at the site needs County Board approval because part of the land is owned by the county, not Arlington Public Schools.

The complete working group report is available online. The group found that it’s feasible to build an elementary school site to the west of the existing middle school and it would have a relatively minor impact on current recreational uses. However, the group says building on the site removes it from consideration for future parkland — for which it’s currently slated — and it would pre-empt the comprehensive study the County Board is launching this year of all county- and school-owned properties for future use.


by Ethan Rothstein — November 7, 2014 at 2:30 pm 2,365 0

Randolph Elementary School (photo via Arlington Public Schools(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Although a final decision has not been made on where more elementary school seats will go in South Arlington, the options have now been narrowed to two.

First, a plan to build a new elementary school next to Thomas Jefferson Middle School, at 125 S. Old Glebe Road, a project which has come under criticism for its reduction of the green space next to the TJ Community Center.

Second, a plan for building $54 million of expansions onto Barcroft and Randolph elementary schools. The Arlington School Board approved the expansion plan at its meeting last night as the alternative to the TJ plan. Whichever option is built is expected to open by September 2018.

The Board will vote in January on which option it will move forward with. Arlington voters approved $50.25 million toward the new elementary school seat plan on Tuesday as part of the $106 million school bond package.

Arlington Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Facilities and Operations John Chadwick said last night that there could be measures APS takes to bring the two expansions closer to the $50.25 million budget.

Two parents spoke out last night against the plan to expand Barcroft and Randolph, telling the School Board they should focus expansion efforts on schools that don’t lag far behind the rest of the school system in state testing. School Board member Emma Violand-Sanchez echoed those parents’ concerns, and was the lone vote against the alternative plan.

“When we look at adding more seats, we keep on talking about seats. We’re not talking many times about students,” she said. “We’re not talking about instructional programs and options we have before us. The part of the county where Barcroft sits and Randolph sits, we have serious instruction issues when we have low achievement of Latino, African-American, students with disabilities, low-income students not perfomrming as they should. We have a problem.”

The other School Board members countered with the fact that APS capacity issues will affect every building in the school system, and performance issues can be addressed during expansion. School Board member Abby Raphael suggested that concerns about the schools’ performance are being overblown.

“Barcroft is a wonderful school. Students are achieving, there’s a wonderful staff. Of course we can do more,” she said. “Because of our growing enrollment, our elementary schools are going to reach 725 students, and we’re running out of land. Ideally, we’d love to have a number of very small elementary schools, but we just simply don’t have the land and the money to achieve that.”

The School Board’s “preferred plan” remains building a new elementary school next to TJ, but that plan is opposed by community group Friends of TJ Park. The group says the new school would reduce crucial parkland, including the community garden. TJ Middle School students spoke up at a School Board meeting last month to advocate for keeping the garden.

Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park at Arlington County Board's meeting 07/1914“I am so proud to work in the TJ Garden and seeing it every morning reminds me of how important it is to our community and school in Arlington,” seventh-grader Lucy Robinson said. “If the TJ garden were separated from the school, fewer people would go there and be involved. The TJ community would be hurt by this. Please leave our garden in its current location.”

The TJ plan would add 725 seats with the new school, while the two expansions would add a total of about 500 seats, according to APS estimates. The disparity may make the decision clearer after APS released its new set of student growth projections last night.

APS Director of Facilities Planning Lionel White told the School Board that APS figures to grow by 19 percent, or 4,957 students, in the next five years. According to the district’s projection model, APS will hit 30,000 students in 2020. Because of this growth, APS is considering refining elementary school boundaries for next fall.

“This year we had our highest kindergarten class on record, 2,196,” White told the Board. “Next year we’re anticipating [more than] 2,200.”

Many of the students affected by the school district’s boundary changes will be attending the new elementary school next to Williamsburg Middle School. Last night the School Board approved the school’s name: Discovery Elementary School.

“When you go into successful schools, they use language like ‘discovery’ and ‘creativity’ to spark inspiration in the children,” School Board Chair James Lander said. “The fact that Discovery is the recommended name really pleases me.”

Photo (top) via Arlington Public Schools

by ARLnow.com — October 15, 2014 at 9:20 am 1,488 0

A leafy entrance to D.C. on I-66 near Rosslyn

Halloween Bar Crawl Begins Discounting — Tickets for the Nov. 1 Halloween bar crawl in Clarendon are being discounted from $15 to $9 on LivingSocial. So far, 63 tickets have been purchased on the site. A police source tells ARLnow.com that ACPD is planning on having “a number of officers specifically detailed to Clarendon for the crawl and throughout the night until a little after closing time.” [LivingSocial]

APS Finds Ways to Make Kids Want Veggies — The Arlington School Board was flabbergasted to learn that the school system’s food services division has apparently found a way to make kids want to eat their veggies. The secret: creatively pairing veggies with other foods. For instance, while spinach alone had an anemic 8 percent selection rate, a spinach and strawberry salad was selected by 78 percent of elementary students. [InsideNova]

What Foreign Students Like About Arlington — A group of exchange students from Germany and Ukraine recently talked about their experience staying in Arlington. They said they liked Arlington’s Metro access and bike paths, and were impressed by how proud Americans are of their country. However, our food got mixed reviews: “The food, they said, tastes good but is ‘a bit unhealthy.'” [Falls Church News-Press]

Open House for TJ Site Evaluation — The Thomas Jefferson Working Group, which is charged with evaluating the feasibility of a new elementary school near Thomas Jefferson Middle School, will hold an open house Saturday, inviting the community to “learn about the process, review site materials, provide feedback and ask questions.” A vocal group of residents has spoken out against the potential loss of parkland at the site.

Kudos for Crystal City’s Startup Scene — Southern Alpha, a website that writes about startups in the southeastern U.S., is impressed with Crystal City’s recent entrepreneurial push. [Southern Alpha]

by ARLnow.com — September 4, 2014 at 9:20 am 1,488 0

Traffic on the GW Parkway at night (Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf)

APS Mulls Contract for School at TJ — The Arlington School Board tonight will consider a $4.7 million contract for architectural and engineering work on a proposed elementary school on the grounds of Thomas Jefferson Middle School. That’s despite well-organized neighborhood opposition to the school encroaching on Thomas Jefferson Park. [InsideNova]

Unreliable Mail Delivery in Douglas Park — Residents of Arlington’s Douglas Park neighborhood say their mail delivery has become considerably less reliable in the past year. Talk of missing mail, misdirected mail and delayed mail has reached a crescendo. The Postal Service says it’s investigating. [WJLA]

HOT Lanes Lawsuit Had ‘Unintended Consequences’ — Democratic County Board candidate Alan Howze acknowledged at Tuesday’s debate that Arlington County might have erred in pursuing an aggressive lawsuit against proposed High Occupancy Toll lanes on I-395. Howze said the suit “had unintended consequences with our relations with Richmond.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

by ARLnow.com — August 12, 2014 at 9:05 am 2,571 0

Benches in Clarendon

APS Identifies Elementary Schools to Possibly Expand — Arlington Public Schools named two schools that could be expanded as a “plan B” if the proposal to put a new school on the Thomas Jefferson Middle School campus doesn’t go through. If the new school cannot be constructed, APS has suggested expanding Randolph Elementary School and Barcroft Elementary School. The County Board commissioned a working group last month to look into the possibility of building a new school on the Thomas Jefferson campus. [InsideNova]

Voter Registration Deadline — Today is the deadline to register to vote, both in person and absentee, in the special election next Tuesday, August 19. Voter registration can be done online. [Arlington County]

Free Tacos at California Tortilla — California Tortilla is giving away free tacos today to celebrate being voted readers’ favorite Mexican in Washingtonian magazine’s “Best of Washington 2014” issue. Arlington’s three locations, as well as all locations nationwide, will offer one free taco per customer all day.

by ARLnow.com — August 6, 2014 at 9:15 am 1,752 0

Lyon Village Park

Petition to Protect Thomas Jefferson Park — Some Arlington residents have started a petition to protect Thomas Jefferson Park from redevelopment. Last month, the county announced it had commissioned a working group to study the land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School, including TJ Park, for the site of a new elementary school. [WTOP]

Arlington Mill Residences Nominated for AwardAffordable Housing Finance Magazine has selected The Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing’s (APAH) Arlington Mill Residences as one of 34 finalists in the annual Reader’s Choice Awards competition. It’s the only nominated property in the D.C. metro area. Readers can see the other finalists online and vote for the Arlington Mill Residences in the Best Overall Development category. [Affordable Housing Finance Magazine]

Rosebud Film Festival Accepting Entries — The Rosebud Film and Video Festival is accepting entries for the 2014 competition. The festival is open exclusively to Virginia, D.C. and Maryland film artists. A panel will select 20 nominees to have their work screened at Artisphere in January. Five winners will be chosen from that pool and will be announced at a gala at Clarendon Ballroom. [Arlington Independent Media]

Chili Cookoff Competitors Wanted — The Arlington County Democratic Committee is looking for people to compete in its annual chili cookoff. The event will take place on Labor Day (Sept. 1). [InsideNova]

by Ethan Rothstein — July 25, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,144 0

Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park at Arlington County Board's meeting 07/1914(Updated at 1:05 p.m.) The Arlington County Board approved the next step in building a new elementary school in South Arlington by commissioning a working group to study land around Thomas Jefferson Middle School.

The working group, the members of which have not yet been announced, will first meet in September and take five months to study the feasibility of building an elementary school adjacent to the middle school at 125 S. Old Glebe Road.

The site is the preferred choice of Arlington’s School Board, which will ask county taxpayers for upwards of $50 million for the school as part of its $106 million referendum package on the Nov. 4 ballot.

“Our County is desirable and growing, and more students are entering our school system,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a press release. “We need to work together to find creative ways to meet this challenge. This working group will bring together community members, Schools, and County staff for a robust consideration of whether to use a portion of the Thomas Jefferson site for a new elementary school.”

The working group — to be comprised of members from surrounding civic associations and members of schools and county staff, advisory boards and commissions — is charged with returning to the County Board with a recommendation in January 2015. Its goals from the County Board include:

  • Retaining the current wooded eastern end of “TJ Park” as is (area along the western portion of S. Irving Street and stretching west along Arlington Blvd.); maintain a cohesive park; ensure no significant loss of green space and no net loss of recreational programming.
  • Considering the neighborhood impacts of traffic and parking and ensure safety of existing pedestrian walkways and bikeways.
  • Ensuring that the community center would remain available for use.
  • Ensuring the building massing is compatible with adjacent neighborhood.

The plan has given rise to a new group opposing building the school on parkland, the Friends of Thomas Jefferson Park. The group dressed in green and showed up a few dozen strong at the County Board’s Saturday meeting. The Board approved the working group in its meeting yesterday, but on Saturday, the group’s leader, Jim Presswood, spoke during the public comment period.

“TJ Park is Arlington’s central park and a wonderful resource that needs to be conserved,” he said. “We’re committed to enhancing our park and we’re hoping to be around for a while.”

by ARLnow.com — July 2, 2014 at 11:45 am 1,651 0

Aerial view of apartment buildings in Courthouse (Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian)

Fallon, Baker Out; Omara, Schneider In for 48th — The list of contenders in the race to replace the retiring Del. Bob Brink (D-48) continues to change. Peter Fallon, mentioned as a possible candidate, says he will not run. Steve Baker, who threw his hat in the ring for a few hours, is no longer running. Young Democrats of America President Atima Omara, meanwhile, is running, as is Yorktown Civic Association President Andrew Schneider. At last count, there are six Democrats and no Republicans in the race.

Endorsements in 48th District Race — Candidates for the 48th District special electoin are starting to tout high-profile local endorsements. Del. Patrick Hope and former Va. lieutenant governor candidate Aneesh Chopra have endorsed Rip Sullivan. Arlington County Board Vice Chairman Mary Hynes, Treasurer Frank O’Leary and Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos have endorsed Paul Holland. In Arlington, a firehouse Democratic primary in the race will be held on Sunday.

Hazmat Scare at TJ Middle School — There was a hazardous materials scare at Thomas Jefferson Middle School yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon. According to an Arlington fire department spokeswoman, the family of a former school employee who passed away brought a box of art supplies to the school as a donation. A school staff member sorting through the donation opened a bag, smelled a strong odor and began to feel sick. Arlington’s hazmat team arrived and determined that the bag contained a chemical used for gold plating. A cleanup crew was brought in to dispose of the chemical and the employee was transported to the hospital in stable condition.

STEM School Proposed — During a discussion about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, the Arlington School Board began talking about the possibility of opening a new STEM-focused middle school or high school. Such a facility could potentially compete with Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, a magnet school attended by a number of Arlington students. [InsideNova]

New Va. Laws Take Effect — A number of new laws in Virginia took effect Tuesday. Among them: the abolition of a $64 tax on hybrid vehicles, a law requiring fewer Standards of Learning tests for grades 3-8, and a law that requires motorists to maintain more space between their vehicles and bicyclists. [Reston Now]

Flickr pool photo by Alex Erkiletian


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