Arlington County Police are trying to figure out who is responsible for a series of racist and homophobic graffiti along the Bluemont Junction Trail and around the Boulevard Manor neighborhood.
The graffiti was first spotted last night along the trail, with the N-word and the F-word spray-painted on the trail and other graffiti on rocks and on a trampoline at a nearby property, according to scanner traffic. It was reported that a group of teenagers was responsible for the graffiti, but police were unable to locate the group at the time.
This morning, more graffiti was found around the Boulevard Manor neighborhood, immediately west of the trail.
“At approximately 5:30 a.m., an unknown suspect(s) vandalized numerous items in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood of Arlington,” wrote Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “The vandalism included destruction of property and graffiti.”
“This series is similar to the vandalism on the Bluemont trail yesterday and detectives are investigating whether or not these are linked,” Savage told ARLnow.com. “The graffiti included various derogatory terms to include swastikas, N-word and homosexual slangs. This is an ongoing and active investigation and will include determining if this could be a hate crime.”
The vandalism was widespread around the neighborhood, including properties on the following streets, according to police.
- 6000 block of 4th Street N.
- 100 block N. Nottingham Street
- Unit block of N. Montague Street (at Washington Blvd)
- 500 block of N. Montague Street
- 400 block N. Lombardy
- 200 block of N. Nottingham Street
- 500 block of N. Lombardy Street
Along the Bluemont trail, neighbors said the vandals damaged the trail and some neighborhood landmarks.
“I’ve lived here for 40-something years and when I saw the blue on the rocks down here, these rocks have been there forever,” said Debbie Cowell. “If I saw somebody doing it, I definitely would have said something.”
“I have no idea who did it, my guess is kids,” said William Pearson. “A couple years ago this wouldn’t have happened. I think because of the influx of families, my guess it that it’s teenagers being teenagers.”
Additional reporting and photos by Adrian Cruz and Jackie Friedman.
Shark Tank Casting in Crystal City — ABC’s “Shark Tank” is holding a casting call today at the 1776 incubator in Crystal City. “Applicants will have roughly 90 seconds to make their initial pitches to casting producers, with about three minutes for a Q&A portion.” [Washington Business Journal]
Arlington Man Is Suspected Serial Bank Robber — Police have identified a serial bank robbery suspect who was arrested Friday in Falls Church as 42-year-old Arlington resident Amin Huie. Police say Huie is the “Forever Loyal Bandit” who has robbed seven banks since 2014, including a Capital One Bank on Columbia Pike last year. [Fairfax County PD, WJLA]
More on Garvey’s Win — Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey’s “unorthodox, controversial” strategy of appealing to non-Democrats in the Democratic primary is “likely to alter future campaigns,” writes Sun Gazette editor Scott McCaffrey, in an analysis of Garvey’s decisive primary win last night. [InsideNova]
Repairs to Westover Branch Library — Work to repair water damage and install new windows at the Westover Branch Library will take place from mid-July to late September. The library will remain open during that time. [Arlington Public Library]
County Touts Increase in Trail Usage — “After a week of single tracking along the Orange/Silver Line between Ballston and East Falls Church, automated counters in the County’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor show an increase of between 70 and 90 percent in bike ridership from the same period last year. Capital BikeShare use in Arlington is up between 20 and 50 percent.” [Arlington County]
Washington Blvd Trail Design Approved — The Penrose Neighborhood Association voted to endorse a new design for Phase II of the county’s Washington Blvd Trail project. The trail was originally supposed to be built a few years ago, but residents objected to the loss of trees the trail’s path would have necessitated. [Greater Greater Washington]
Anti-Gun Store Car Towed — Opponents of the planned Lyon Park gun store say the store’s landlord ordered a car towed from the parking lot because it was covered in anti-gun store literature. Despite being covered in the articles, which were held in place by colorful magnets, the car actually belonged to one of the building’s tenants and wasn’t parked illegally, says the group Act4LyonPark. [Facebook]
Female Firefighters in Arlington — In 1974, Judith Livers became the first paid, full-time municipal firefighter in the United States when she took a job with the Arlington County Fire Department. On Friday, a graduation ceremony was held for the county’s latest firefighting recruit class. Continuing Livers’ legacy, four of the 14-member class are female. Nationally, only about 4 percent of firefighters are women, while 9 percent of Arlington’s firefighters are female. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
ACPD Patrolling Trails — Auxiliary officers with the Arlington County Police Department will be increasingly patrolling trails around the county this spring, to help keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe. [InsideNova]
Arlington Transit Survey — Arlington County is conducting an online survey of residents as part of its update of Arlington’s Transit Development Plan. The 10-year-plan is intended to identify transit goals and prioritize improvements. This latest update will include recommendations for future transit on Columbia Pike. [SurveyMonkey]
Forums Shut Down — Due to an influx of uncontrollable spam and an unresolvable technical glitch with the latest version of WordPress, ARLnow.com has made the decision to shut down our message board indefinitely. Thank you to our forum participants for four years of vigorous community discussion.
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Route 50 Trail Proposed — The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has proposed connecting existing trail infrastructure along Route 50 to create a contiguous trail between the National Mall and Fairfax City. The potential project faces a number of challenges, including its estimated $40 million price tag. [Greater Greater Washington]
‘Arlington Archive’ to Be Studied — Arlington County will assemble a task force that will spend all of 2015 trying to figure out a plan for the county to preserve its history with a digital “Arlington Archive.” [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Chris
The trail connecting Doctor’s Run Park and S. George Mason Drive to Randolph Elementary School is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
The project, funded with Neighborhood Conservation money, will realign the trail that runs between the park and the school, widening it and decreasing its slopes in several areas, according to its county project page. The trail will be lit until 6:00 p.m. to coincide with Randolph’s after school programs.
The new trail will also connect with the 12th Street S. bike boulevard that goes from street to trail at S. Quincy Street. When complete, county Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Manager David Goodman told ARLnow.com a HAWK signal will be installed at the intersection of George Mason Drive and 13th Street, where the trail connector meets the road. The improvements will also include a pedestrian
“There are some improvements we’re doing on either end of this connector that are going to tie this all together,” Goodman told ARLnow.com.
Arlington is moving forward with a bike trail along Washington Blvd and has moved the placement of the trail to save trees.
The trail is expected to cost about $1.7 million, according to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel, but it has not been put out to bid yet. The trail has been approved and in planning stages for years, but its initial path would have necessitated digging up hundreds of mature trees.
This Saturday, the Arlington County Board is likely to approve a realignment of the trail to put it closer to Towers Park and S. Rolfe Street, north of Columbia Pike. If approved, the county would pay $8,000 to the federal government to acquire the easement for the trail. The trail will then be put out to bid. Construction is expected to begin next year and end by summer 2015.
Phase I of the trail has already been built, between Route 50 and S. Walter Reed Drive, according to the county staff report. The trail segment in question would run from Walter Reed Drive to S. Rolfe Street and Columbia Pike. The trail is being built to “provide a new opportunity for persons in the southeastern part of Arlington to bicycle, walk or run on a route apart from motor vehicle traffic,” according to the staff report.
Waiting for approvals from the Virginia Department of Transportation has delayed the project, McDaniel said. VDOT controls the space adjacent to Washington Blvd where a large part of the trail will be built.
The project was approved by the Arlington County Board in the 2015-2024 Capital Improvement Program. It will include a sidewalk and provide cyclists and pedestrians access from the Columbia Pike area to Pentagon City, according to county Bicycle and Pedestrian Programs Manager David Goodman.
“It was originally envisioned as a trail, but ultimately it has more value as an emergency access drive that also allows pedestrian and bicycle activity,” Goodman told ARLnow.com. “Its purpose is to provide an escape valve for getting emergency vehicles between the two sides of I-395. There really aren’t any other connections there.”
The CIP calls for the project to begin the planning phase in FY 2020, and for construction to occur in FY 2022 and 2023. The total project cost is estimated at $5.2 million, and the CIP calls for it to be paid for with state transportation funds. Goodman, who is leading the project, said the $5.2 million is a “back-of-napkin” estimate because there has been no preliminary engineering work done, but it’s possible it will cost less.
The approval in the CIP is the first concrete step toward building the path since the county received the easement for a 30-foot-wide stretch of property along the golf course in 2010. The easement was granted in exchange for zoning approval for a new clubhouse. At the time, members of the country club filed a lawsuit against the club’s leadership trying to block the path from being built.
The road will require a retaining wall because it will be at “a very steep grade,” Goodman said. It will likely have safety bollards on the entrances to block civilian motorist traffic from entering, but allowing the flow of cyclists and pedestrians.
“It’s a very steep and narrow piece of land we were given,” he said. “It’s just a leftover piece of land they were never going to use… Retaining walls are always expensive. We were asked to work with the easement we were given.”
(Updated at 7:50 p.m.) The effects of last week’s winter storm were felt by one group of commuters for days following the last snowflake.
The inconvenience of traveling in the cold and sometimes icy conditions proved not only difficult for those traveling by car, but also for local cyclists. At Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting, resident Gillian Burgess expressed her concerns about clearing bike trails after snow storms occur in the area.
“We only have one car, and we have lots of bikes,” Burgess said. “Unfortunately, it’s not safe to take most of these bikes onto the trails in the state that they’re in. So I leave the car with my kids because I want them to be the safest, and instead I’m left with the choice of biking on very busy streets that are not safe.”
“My husband and I first moved to Arlington years ago because we wanted to live the car-light lifestyle,” she continued. “Now we have two kids and one car, and we love it. And most of the time we love mostly biking and walking around Arlington. Unfortunately after it snows we don’t have that luxury. We have found that both after the storm in December and currently, trails do not get cleared.”
According to county Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel, the county does not have dedicated resources for clearing ice and snow from its shared-use trails.
“Staff have been collaborating this past year to find a viable solution to clear these trails,” McDaniel said in an email. “The Department of Parks and Recreation has made an effort to handle snow clearing on trails after addressing other priorities such as snow clearing for several County buildings, routes to schools and Metro rail stations, as well as assisting in the clearing of streets and walkways at other locations.”
Board Chairman Jay Fisette agreed that the county has encouraged walking and biking to get around — the “car-free diet” — and he said Burgess’ concerns were understandable.
“We have heard over time, increasingly the question about bike trails — and it’s a natural one because we’re promoting walking and cycling,” he said. “It makes complete sense that we [are getting] more questions from those who have drunk the Kool-Aid and participate in that culture and maybe even got rid of that car so that they can bike and walk and use transit more frequently.”
Tim Kelley, the marketing manager for Bike Arlington, wrote in Bike Arlington’s forums that the county’s 25 bike counters on its shared-use trails register “a big dip in usage during and in the days following a big snow storm.”
Fisette, who mentioned he is a cyclist himself, remains “unresolved” on the issue.
“I have probably the full range of questions about this as anyone would, you know, about resources, about prioritization, about effectiveness and the environmental impact,” Fisette said. “So I would just say that from my perspective, to have some sort of coherent input from [County Manager Barbara Donnellan] thinking about… what the options are for Board consideration might make sense.”
Ethan Rothstein contributed to this report. Photo (top) via Bike Arlington.
Officials at Joint Base Ft. Myer-Henderson Hall announced last week that yesterday, Monday, the trail, which runs from the Old Post Chapel to McNair Road’s intersection with Marshall Drive, would be closed.
The trail is closing to accommodate the expansion of Arlington National Cemetery with its “Millennium Project.” Besides the closure of the trail, more than 700 trees are set to be removed for the cemetery expansion, a plan that rankled local activists when the expansion was discussed in March.
The $82 million expansion is expected to add in-ground and above ground burial locations, columbarium space, committal shelters and infrastructure to support it. It will take over a parcel of undeveloped land next to Ft. Myer. The expansion is needed, according to cemetery officials, because the cemetery could run out of burial space within 12 years.
A new jogging path to replace the closed one is expected to be constructed after the project’s completion in spring 2016.
Photo via Google Maps
A portion of the trail near the junction with the Mt. Vernon Trail will close during the day in order to demolish a bridge overhead. Closures will be in place from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays, and 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The trail will be open on Sundays.
The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) notes that a detour will be in place for ADA compliance, but it may not be the best option for some trail users, such as bikers. The detour diverts traffic off of the trail and onto the west sidewalk of Jefferson Davis Highway, then across the highway at the S. Glebe Road signal. Those using the detour can reconnect with the trail farther east via new switchback ramps.
Funeral for Arlington Firefighter Injured on 9/11 — A funeral will be held today for an Arlington firefighter who was a first responder on 9/11. Phillip McKee III suffered a severe leg injury while battling fires at the Pentagon following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack. He also inhaled toxic dust and later suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. His family says McKee, 41, died from complications from those injuries. McKee, who held degrees from Yale and Harvard, was openly gay and is survived by his husband and partner of 15 years. [Washington Blade]
County Officials: No Subsidies for Gov’t Agencies — With the county still reeling from the impending loss of the National Science Foundation, Arlington officials are sticking to their guns and saying that offering tax breaks and other financial incentives to lure federal agencies is bad policy. Arlington Economic Development Director Terry Holzheimer is pushing for the General Services Administration to disclose additional information related to the decision to move the NSF to Alexandria by 2017. “None of it makes any sense,” Holzheimer said of the decision and its impact to other government tenants in Ballston. [Washington Business Journal]
Bluemont Trail Improvements — Arlington County crews will be widening a section of the Bluemont Trail between Buchanan Street and the Ballston Holiday Inn this month. Crews will also be removing obstructions and landscaping around the trail. [Bike Arlington]
SUPERNOVA Photos — Dozens of artists invaded public spaces in Rosslyn over the weekend for the SUPERNOVA Performance Art Festival. Some of the artists and their performances can be seen in a series of photos published the the Ode Street Tribune blog.
Democratic Primary Today — Democrats will go to the polls today in Virginia to vote in the primary for lieutenant governor and attorney general. Among the candidates is Arlington resident Aneesh Chopra, who’s running for lieutenant governor. Polls will remain open in Arlington from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. [Arlington County]
The attack happened around 11:00 a.m. According to new details released by police, a woman was walking down the trail in the area of Glencarlyn Park when a man approached her from behind. He motioned for the woman to get off the trail and walk into the woods, police said, but she refused and screamed for help.
The man then used a knife to stab the victim three times in the neck, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Other trail users heard the woman’s screams but the man fled the scene on foot before help arrived.
The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries. She remained alert and was able to talk to officers before being transported to the trauma center at Inova Fairfax Hospital, Sternbeck said.
“The suspect is described as a white Hispanic male in his 20’s, approximately 4’8” tall and 130 lbs,” according to the police report. “He was wearing a yellow Polo shirt and dark pants.”
Police plan to talk to the victim today in an effort to get a fuller description of the suspect, possibly for the creation of a composite sketch. Sternbeck said the incident “was a very brazen attack on a Saturday morning,” and a reminder that trail users should always remain alert.
“First and foremost, be aware of your surroundings,” he said. “If you are going to go on the trail, invite a friend to go with you. It’s very rare that we see an attack on the trail where the victim is with a companion or a group. The majority of times they’re attacking a woman who’s alone.”
Earlier this year the Arlington County Police Department produced a video that details a number of safety tips for users of local trails.
Woman Attacked on Four Mile Run Trail — A man with a knife attacked a woman who was walking alone on the Four Mile Run Trail on Saturday morning. The woman suffered “minor, non-life threatening” injures. The suspect is still at large. [WJLA, NBC Washington]
Yorktown Falls in Soccer Championship — The Yorktown High School girls’ soccer team lost 2-1 to Chantilly in the Northern Region championship game on Friday. The team, which finished regional play with a 20-2 record, will still continue to the state tournament. The first round game will take place on Tuesday at Battlefield High School. [Sun Gazette]
ACPD Officers Honored for Fighting Car Theft — Three Arlington County Police officers have received state Law Enforcement Officer Awards for their work in helping to fight car theft. “LEO Award winners are selected by judges from the insurance industry, partnering law enforcement agencies and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles for their exemplary actions related to Intelligence, Prevention, Enforcement and Recoveries in fighting the crime of vehicle theft,” police said in a press release. [Arlington County]
Examiner Skewers Board for Signature Bailout — The Arlington County Board “blindsided” taxpayers by approving a $250,000 bailout for Signature Theatre during a closed session, according to a Washington Examiner editorial. “Other financially struggling artistic venues have to scale back productions, sublease space or launch pledge drives when money gets tight,” the Examiner editorial board wrote. “But Signature Theatre has friends in high places who apparently believe it’s too fabulous to fail, county taxpayers be damned.” [Washington Examiner]
Photo by MJordanRomero
This weekend, the Arlington County Board is expected to approve an agreement with VDOT to design a trail connector from the Four Mile Run Trail to Potomac Avenue in Arlington. Potomac Avenue runs from Crystal City to the shops and new residential developments in the Potomac Yard section of Alexandria.
Currently, the Four Mile Run Trail connects with the west side of Route 1. One would then have to cross the busy thoroughfare to get to Potomac Yard. A steep, informal dirt path that connects directly from the trail to Potomac Avenue also exists, but can be difficult to climb.
County officials say the new trail connection will be accessible to those with disabilities.
“The trail connection will provide an ADA compliant multi-use trail connection between the Potomac Yard development on the north side of Four Mile Run (Arlington County) and the Four Mile Run Trail which is also on the north side of Four Mile Run (Arlington County),” wrote Shannon Whalen McDaniel, spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Environmental Services. “The new trail connection will replace a informal dirt pathway (goat path) that currently exists along the steep embankment between Potomac Yard and the Four Mile Run Trail.”
The design and engineering for the new trail connection is projected to cost $250,000. Of that, $190,000 will come from federal funds and $60,000 will come from Arlington County. The actual construction of the trail connector hasn’t been funded yet, but is expected to be complete no later than 2016. No construction date has been set.
Image via Google Maps