New Elementary School Approved — After a years-long process that included neighborhood opposition and lots of community discussion, the Arlington County Board has approved a use permit and ground lease for a new elementary school on the Thomas Jefferson middle school and community center site. [Arlington County]
Rosslyn Farmers Market Approved — Also at its Saturday meeting, the County Board gave the go-ahead to a new FreshFarm Markets-operated farmers market that will be held at the new Central Place public plaza in Rosslyn. The market will be open on Wednesday evenings from April to November. [Arlington County]
Bebe Closing at Pentagon City Mall — The Bebe store at the Pentagon City mall will close by the end of May. It’s part of a larger restructuring for the struggling young women’s clothing retailer. [Patch]
County Board to Honor Trees — “Arlington has about 755,400 trees of at least 122 species that provide $6.89 million in environmental benefits to the County annually in pollution removal, carbon storage, energy savings and avoided stormwater runoff. The Arlington County Board will honor 10 of these trees as Notable Trees at the April 25 County Board Meeting.” [Arlington County]
Blue Virginia’s School Board Endorsement — Local Democratic blog Blue Virginia has endorsed Monique O’Grady in the race for the Democratic endorsement for Arlington School Board. The endorsement cites incumbent James Lander’s recent controversial remarks about a murder victim as a reason for not endorsing him. [Blue Virginia]
Flickr pool photo by Ameschen
CarPool Now Closed — A line out the door marked CarPool’s last day in business on Monday. The Ballston bar hosted a large crowd of patrons there to watch the Nationals opening day and the NCAA men’s basketball championship, and to say goodbye to the long-time watering hole. [Twitter]
Clement Opposes Tax Rate Hike — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Audrey Clement says she does not support the proposed property tax hike, which Arlington’s county manager says is necessary to fund Metro and Arlington Public Schools. [InsideNova]
Developments in School Board Race — Former congressional candidate Mike Webb has gathered the petition signatures necessary to get on this year’s Arlington School Board ballot, although he still has a couple of paperwork hurdles before he officially qualifies. Meanwhile, incumbent James Lander has received the endorsement of the Arlington Education Association as he faces two challengers in the Democratic endorsement caucus. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Arlington’s Trees By The Numbers — “The County is proud home to some 755,400 trees of at least 122 species. If you had to put a price on all that priceless foliage, it’d be worth more than $1.4 billion.” [Arlington County]
Tour of the Trades Center — The latest “Around Arlington” video from the county gives viewers a tour of the Arlington Trandes Center near Shirlington, where school buses are housed, police cars get repaired and salt trucks get refilled. [YouTube]
Police Chief: See Something, Say Something — Although the vast majority of calls about suspicious people or circumstances turn out to be nothing, Arlington’s police chief is still encouraging residents to call the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 if they see something out of the ordinary. Said Chief Jay Farr: “Do not hesitate to call us about something suspicious. Some say, ‘I didn’t want to bother you,’ but I say, `Bother us.'” [Falls Church News-Press]
A number of local Christmas tree sales are set to begin after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Perhaps the best-publicized of the local sales is the Arlington Optimist Club’s tree sale at the Well Fargo bank parking lot on the corner of Lee Highway and N. Glebe Road.
The lot will open Friday, from noon to 6 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Then, starting Monday, the schedule will be as follows:
- Monday to Thursday — 2 to 8 p.m.
- Friday — Noon to 8 p.m.
- Saturday and Sunday — 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Clarendon United Methodist Church, at 607 N. Irving Street, is also planning a Christmas tree sale starting this weekend. All proceeds will benefit the Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC) and Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network (A-SPAN).
The church’s sale will begin Sunday “and will continue until trees are sold out.” The hours are:
- Sunday — Noon to 4 p.m.
- Monday to Friday — 5 to 9 p.m.
- Saturday — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
There are a number of other local Christmas tree sales that take place around Arlington — as detailed in this article from last year — but remarkably, in 2016, there is still little information about the sales to be readily found online.
Other usual Christmas tree sale locations include Whole Foods stores, local farmers markets, Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church (830 23rd Street S.), the Cathedral of St. Thomas More (3901 N. Cathedral Lane), the Dominion Hills shopping center (6000 Wilson Blvd), the Food Star parking lot (950 S. George Mason Drive) and the Unleashed by Petco parking lot (5400 Lee Highway).
On a calm summer night a few months ago, just after the Fourth of July, a big, century-old tree toppled over, blocking a street and knocking out power to much of the Ashton Heights neighborhood.
Fast forward to today and something cool has come from the tree’s unfortunate demise.
Local chainsaw artist Andrew Mallon has turned part of the big tree — the stump of which remains horizontal in a front yard along the 500 block of N. Lincoln Street — into a sculpture of a two-headed dragon.
The sculpture has captured the neighborhood’s imagination and is clearly an object of fascination for the homeowners’ young son, who was outside admiring it with a caretaker when ARLnow.com stopped by yesterday afternoon.
Mallon, who grew up two blocks from the home, says the family was “disappointed” that the tree fell down, but specifically asked whether it could be kept for posterity, in dragon form.
“They asked if a dragon with a horn was a possibility,” Mallon said. “They wanted a carving the kids could play on that also included a bench for the adults to enjoy. I thought it was a great idea and quickly started thinking of different ways to incorporate all the elements the family wanted.”
“This carving has really been an amazing piece to work on and I couldn’t be happier it is living at a great home, with a fun loving family, in my old neighborhood,” continued Mallon. “I have to be honest the 10 year old in me is a little jealous I didn’t have a dragon to play on as a child.”
Before the carving could begin, Mallon said, a crane had to be brought into remove the four-ton tree from the street. After that, the design was finalized: a dragon with two heads and a kid-friendly saddle.
“To fit the design in the log I had to start the carving by leveling out the bottom and removing about 1,000 pounds from it,” said Mallon. “After being properly leveled, I used my largest saw to block out the heads, body, and tail. Once the general shape was there I was able to switch to a smaller saw to begin working on the details. This includes the playful faces, tail, saddle, etc.”
“I still have some details like the scales to complete, but will be waiting to finish them until we can put the dragon in its permanent location,” he added. “Once the carving is finished I will burn it to add depth and color. This will be followed by a nice sanding, to prevent splinters, and finished with an outdoor sealer to protect the carving from the elements so it lasts for years to come.”
Food Star Not Responding to Pleas to Stay — The Food Star grocery store apparently doesn’t have much interest in staying in Arlington after the store, at the corner of Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive, closes to make way for a redevelopment. Despite resident interest in keeping the Food Star, county officials say their efforts to reach out to the company and help them relocate to another location in Arlington have not yet yielded a “substantive” response. [InsideNova]
LEGO Store Grand Opening — The new LEGO Store in the Pentagon City mall is holding its grand opening celebration starting today. The store will be hosting a LEGO Master Builder who will construct a huge LEGO model for display. The first 400 customers Friday, Saturday and Sunday will receive free gifts with qualifying purchases. [LEGO]
Olympic Athletes at Elementary School — A group of Olympic athletes will talk with students at Carlin Springs Elementary this morning. Among the group are shot put gold medalist Michelle Carter, gold medal-winning sprinter Natasha Hastings and long jump gold medalist Jeff Henderson. The athletes will be at the school as part of the Let’s Move! Healthy Schools campaign.
Notable Tree Nominations — It’s that time of the year — if you think you have a truly exceptional tree in your yard that deserves recognition, you can now nominate it for Arlington County’s annual Notable Tree awards. The deadline for nominations is Nov. 15. [Arlington County]
October Is Affordable Housing Month — Tomorrow is Oct. 1 and October is Affordable Housing Month in Arlington, “a month-long celebration of the County’s long-term commitment to preserving and creating housing opportunities that benefit the whole community.” [Arlington County]
(Updated at 5:15 p.m.) A downed tree in the Ashton Heights neighborhood is leading to a call to the county ombudsman’s office.
The big tree, said to be more than a century old, fell last night near the intersection of N. Lincoln Street and 5th Street N., knocking out power to the area.
The neighborhood listserv is now abuzz with talk of what might have caused the old tree to fall during calm weather. Paving work on the street, residents are speculating, may have had something to do with it.
“A massive road repaving project brought in heavily vibrating equipment — many thought unnecessarily vibrating — which, according to our neighborhood listserv buzz, may have contributed to the tree’s fall, given very wet soil conditions,” a resident told us. “I lack professional credentials to shed light on that one way or another.”
Whether rooted in fact or not, residents are not content to leave the issue alone. They’re barking up the tree of the county ombudsman, according to a listserv email.
“Scott Sklar is contacting the county ombudsman about this problem today and complaining on behalf of Ashton Heights,” the email says. “The tree was 125 years old. Very sad.”
Sklar, president of the Ashton Heights Civic Association, said residents felt as if there was an “earthquake” when the heavy equipment was in use. One resident even reported that her morning cup of coffee rolled off the kitchen counter and broke as a result of the pervasive vibrations.
There’s “no question” about what caused the tree to fall, he said.
“The County contractors are using percussion rollers to compress the road under-bed — which uses intense weight and sound rather than the usual heavy roller compression approach,” he told ARLnow.com. ” There is no question in my mind, that this new approach is what caused this old tree to fall after the heavy rain we just had.”
“Use of percussion rollers should not be used in areas where there are large trees and old homes (pre-2000),” Sklar said. “Manufacturer’s warnings on percussion rollers explicitly state they should not be used near large trees or old buildings
Meghan McMahon, spokeswoman for the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services, said in a statement that the county is “reviewing the matter.”
DES crews have been performing roadbed reclamation and paving on Lincoln Street over the past week. The roadbed reclamation process, which was completed on June 30, is more disruptive than normal paving or patching. This process uses a machine that churns and mixes the base of the road at a deeper level so more vibrations and disturbance may occur. This process is specifically used for underbuilt, lower volume roads like Lincoln Street. Our paving contractors use vibratory rollers and other heavy machinery during the roadbed reclamation process. These rollers are also used on every street during maintenance and repaving. Rollers are commonly used to gain better compaction in asphalt construction. Yesterday’s work on Lincoln Street was repaving.
We have used these processes for several years in this neighborhood and several others like it that have older trees and houses. This is the first we have heard of such impacts from this type of work. We are reviewing the matter to determine what caused the tree to fall.
As seen in the photos above, some paving equipment was underneath the tree when it fell.
“Two County vehicles were enclosed by the tree canopy when it fell, but neither were impacted or damaged,” said McMahon. “The storm drain was damaged, but we have already put in a work order to fix this. It will be prioritized based on other work we have and safety.”
Photos courtesy Elizabeth Lyon
Sun Gazette Endorses Garvey — County Board Chair Libby Garvey has picked up the endorsement of the Sun Gazette newspaper in her re-election battle against Democratic challenger Erik Gutshall. “[Garvey’s] efforts, however inelegant at times they have been, to press needed reforms on an elected body too long aloof from the public should be rewarded,” the paper wrote. [InsideNova]
Gutshall Holds Education Press Conference — Erik Gutshall held a press conference with former School Board Chair Elaine Furlow and others yesterday evening. Gutshall called on his opponent, Libby Garvey, to “stop dragging her feet” on the County Board and implement the key recommendations of the Community Facilities Study in order to more quickly add needed school capacity. [Blue Virginia]
Gutshall’s Hyperlocal Mailers — Erik Gutshall’s campaign is sending postcard-sized mailers to potential primary voters, targeted by neighborhood and printed with the names of supporters in that neighborhood. [Twitter]
CivFed Aims to Plant 100 Trees — The Arlington Civic Federation, which turned 100 this year, is celebrating its centennial by encouraging the planting of 100 trees around the county. The Civic Federation was formed in 1916, four years before Arlington was even called “Arlington.” [InsideNova]
Community Garden Fundraiser Fizzles — Arlington County’s attempt to crowdfund a community garden accessible to those with disabilities has not gone so well. As of Sunday the county has only raised $465 out of the $10,000 it sought, with only five days to go in the fundraiser. The failure raises questions about local government use of crowdfunding, the Post suggests. [Washington Post]
Meeting on Career Center Changes — Some major changes could be coming to the Arlington Career Center. Arlington Public Schools will be discussing that and other South Arlington school projects at a meeting Tuesday. The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Career Center, at 816 S. Walter Reed Drive. [Taylor PTA]
More on Notable Tree Planted at Fire House — A Southern Magnolia tree planted outside Fire Station No. 4 in Clarendon was recognized as a “Notable Tree” last week. The tree was planted in 1965 in memory of ACFD Capt. Archie Hughes, who died while responding to a house fire at the age of 33. [NBC Washington]
New Movie’s Arlington Connection — A new indie flick, “Green Room,” follows the travails of a fictional Arlington-based punk band. The film was written and directed by Alexandria-born filmmaker Jeremy Saulnier. [DCist]
Spotluck Launches in Crystal City — Restaurant discovery and discount app Spotluck has launched in Crystal City. Participating restaurants include Crystal City Sports Pub, Kora and Kabob Palace. [Spotluck]
Arlington’s Diversity Highlighted — The world is learning about Arlington’s diversity. The Voice of America notes that Arlington is home to more than 130 ethnic groups, particularly around Columbia Pike. [VOA]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Times Lauds Crystal City’s ‘Reboot’ — Arlington’s Crystal City community is “is quietly and persistently reinventing itself,” with tech startups and co-working spaces moving in and taking advantage of office space left vacant by departed federal and military tenants. Crystal City stakeholders are positioning it as a less expensive but still amenity-filled alternative to the District. “Think Brooklyn and Manhattan,” said Mitchell Schear, president of property owner Vornado/Charles E. Smith. [New York Times]
Ballston Named One of the Area’s ‘Hottest Neighborhoods’ — Ballston is among the top 5 “hottest neighborhoods in Washington,” according to Washingtonian. The magazine notes that Ballston’s median home price rose by nearby 10 percent last year, and that the forthcoming renovation of Ballston Common Mall will convert it into “an airy, downtown-like destination, akin to Fairfax’s Mosaic district.” The other four hot neighborhoods are Mount Pleasant, Trinidad, Shaw and Hyattsville. [Washingtonian]
Archaeological Dig Unearths History — An Arlington County-supervised archaeological dig at Dawson Terrace, near Rosslyn, has unearthed “243 ceramic objects, 1,603 glass objects, 74 metal objects and 13 others.” Most of the objects are believed to be from the 18th and 19th centuries. Dawson Terrace is Arlington’s oldest stone house, dating back to around the Revolutionary War. [Falls Church News-Press]
County Recognizes ‘Notable Trees’ — At yesterday’s Arlington County Board meeting, the county recognized this year’s batch of “notable trees.” Among the record 23 trees bestowed the honor for “their importance to our community, our environment and our sense of identity” was a Southern magnolia in Clarendon, planted in 1965 in honor of a fallen firefighter. [Arlington County, InsideNova]
Four Mile Run Initiative Advances — The County Board yesterday appointed a working group, charged with “providing advice, guidance and feedback to the Board and County staff on developing a comprehensive vision for Four Mile Run Valley.” The 95 acre area between Shirlington and Nauck, also known as Shirlington Crescent, is currently home to various light industrial businesses but may be ripe for redevelopment. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk
(Updated at 5:17 p.m.) Two mature trees along Washington Boulevard at Pershing Drive were given severe trims earlier this winter, leading at least one nearby resident to call the trimming “vandalism.”
The trees in the sidewalk in front of Texas Jack’s Barbecue, Second Ascent Consignments and State Farm Insurance — until recently, home of the longtime Corner Cupboard antique shop — were subject to the harmful pruning method called “topping.” The leaf-bearing crowns and the lower limbs have been removed, leaving behind what are essentially 10-foot tall stumps.
The International Society of Arboriculture says topping is “the most harmful pruning practice known.”
Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation told ARLnow.com they did not trim the trees and have sent letters to nearby businesses as part of an investigation.
As the county didn’t perform or approve of the cutting, the reader, who prefers to remain anonymous, considers the non-permitted trimming unlawful and the act can be defined as vandalism.
“Vandalism is a crime, and these trees are city property — their destruction is just as illegal as tearing down county street signs or spray painting a county vehicle.”
As in previous years, Arlington County will be conducting its curbside Christmas tree collection during the first two full weeks of January. In 2016, the collection will run from Monday, Jan. 4 to Friday, Jan. 15.
“Residents are reminded to place the tree on the curb no later than 6 a.m. on your regular trash collection day and to remove all decorations, nails, stands and plastic bags,” the county said on its website. “The trees are later ground into wood mulch for garden use.”
Those who live in condos or other places without residential curbside trash collection can opt to schlep their trees Arlington’s Solid Waste Bureau near Shirlington for recycling. Residents are asked to call 703-228-6570 to make an appointment to drop off a tree there. Proof of Arlington residence is required.
From grocery stores to community organizations, Arlington residents have a number of options for finding the right tree.
Local Christmas tree sales aren’t particularly well-publicized online, so for many residents the strategy is to go to where they bought their tree last year.
Here are some places in Arlington County that have been reliable vendors over the years from which to pick up your annual fir.
- The Optimist Club of Arlington, 2213 N. Glebe Road
The annual tree sale in the Wells Fargo Bank lot along Lee Highway will open this Saturday. Its hours are from 2-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 12-8 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 830 23rd Street S.
The Knights of Columbus will sell trees at this church near Crystal City from 6-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends. An opening date wasn’t specified, but the sale will run through Dec. 20 or until the trees are gone, whichever comes first.
- Cathedral of St. Thomas More, 3901 N. Cathedral Lane
Another local Knights of Columbus organization will be selling trees in Arlington this season. Signs for the sale are up along Glebe Road, across from the Mr. Wash car wash. Last year, the sale was open seven days a week, from 6-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the weekends.
- Boy Scout Troop 162, 6000 Wilson Blvd
In previous years, this sale began during the first week of December and sold out in less than two weeks. The troop’s sale does have a Facebook page to follow for updates.
- Food Star parking lot, 950 S. George Mason Drive
The Arlington South Lions Club has sold Christmas trees here for years, typically from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve.
- Unleashed by Petco parking lot, 5400 Lee Highway
Christmas trees are sold from this lot along N. Harrison Street, along with other seasonal items, like fireworks around the Fourth of July and pumpkins around Halloween.
- Whole Foods, 2700 Wilson Blvd
If you’re in Clarendon or Courthouse and on the car-free diet, this is the place to go. The trees tend to be on the smaller side, which presumably makes carrying them home easier.
- Local farmers markets
Local farmers markets often stock Christmas trees, some of which are grown right here in Virginia. Here’s a list of farmers markets in Arlington.
Other popular locations just outside of Arlington include the Home Depot in Falls Church, Greenstreet Gardens on W. Braddock Road near Fairlington and Merrifield Garden Center on Lee Highway in Fairfax County.
Know of any other Christmas tree sales in the area? Let us know in the comments.
Arlington County is preparing to make its list of 265 designated “notable trees” a bit longer.
The Department of Parks and Recreation is accepting nominations for its Notable Tree Program through Nov. 15. The program has identified the county’s most notable trees for nearly 30 years.
Last year, 16 trees were deemed worthy of the designation.
According to the nomination form, the purpose of the program is to “recognize and thank the citizens who maintain and care for the County’s most noteworthy trees.” It also hopes encourage other residents to appreciate and take better care of greenery on their property.
What exactly, then, makes a tree notable?
Size, age, historical interest, species uniqueness and special significance to a neighborhood are all factors that can earn a tree a spot on the county’s registry and a certificate or plaque.
The process to get there, though, can be complicated. First, nominators are encouraged to get consent from the tree’s owner before filling out the one-page application. A team of County staff and volunteers will then visit each tree to measure it and evaluate its condition.
That team will make a recommendation to the Urban Forestry Commission, who will decide whether or not to designate and register the tree.
The winners will receive their award at the County’s Arbor Day ceremony, which falls on April 29, 2016.
Photo via Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation
A county water crew’s effort to smoke some bees out of a hollow tree ended with a fire department response earlier today.
The incident happened Wednesday morning near the intersection of 17th Street N. and N. Buchanan Street, in the Waycroft-Woodlawn neighborhood.
An Arlington Water, Sewer, Streets Bureau crew was trying to rid the tree of the bees, in order to replace a meter box below the tree, when something seemingly went wrong.
“Crews discovered a beehive in the hollow part of the tree and smoked it out so they could access the box,” said Meghan McMahon, a spokeswoman for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services. “The tree began smoking badly, so crews called the fire department.”
“[Firefighters] sprayed the tree down as a precautionary measure… the tree did not catch fire,” McMahon noted. “Crews didn’t want to take any chances in today’s dry, hot weather.”
The tree is scheduled to be removed by the county parks department Thursday, at which time the water crew will try again to replace the meter box.
Residents in Arlington’s Penrose neighborhood are claiming that recent trimming by Dominion Power contractors injured trees that line the streets.
They are especially concerned with a White Oak tree on the corner of 8th Street S. and S. Veitch Street, which dates back to before the Civil War, said Terri Armao, chair of the Penrose Neighborhood Association’s Environmental Committee.
“They brutally attacked it yesterday,” Armao said. “I can’t even tell you what they did to it.”
Limbs were cut from the middle where the power line ran though, leaving a gap and causing the tree to look like a giant “V.” Residents had previously asked Dominion not to touch the tree because of its old age.
“I mean it is ridiculous. For a tree they weren’t supposed to touch, they touch a V out of it,” Armao said.
Margaret Alvord, a Penrose resident, attempted to stop the contractors from cutting into the tree, after receiving a call from a neighbor. The tree had been pruned three weeks ago and was still recovering, Alvord said.
“So I jumped up and went up the street in my car,” Alvord said. “I parked my car and they had already begun… and I asked them to stop. I said, ‘this tree is a very old tree.'”
The workers told her to go talk to the supervisor, and when she talked to him, he told her it was the workers’ job to clear the trees from the lines.
“He basically said its our job to clear the lines. And they have to go 10 feet from lines,” Alvord said.
Dominion workers trim trees in order to keep them off of the power lines, said Chuck Penn, a media specialist with Dominion. The trimmings help to keep the power on during storms.
“Our mandate is to provide safe and reliable service to our customers,” he said.
The company respects the resident’s love for the trees and try to balance keeping the trees and providing service, Penn said.
“I cannot overemphasize enough the empathy we bring to our pruning,” he said. “People love their trees and we respect that.”
All Dominion foresters are certified arborists, Penn said. Trees are trimmed every three to four years to maintain the power lines.
“It’s a delicate balance we don’t take lightly,” Penn said. “We respect our customers and our trees.”
The White Oak is important to the neighborhood for its environmental impacts as well as its age, Armao said. For instance, the tree provides shade for the elderly resident that lives in the house next to it.
White Oaks are also known for their support of different species. A White Oak produces acorns, which can be used by 180 other species, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service.
“They’re one of those keystone trees,” Armao said.
Dominion does not have a policy for trees that have historic value, Penn said. The company does use the foresters when determining when a tree is a “danger” tree and needs to be trimmed.
Neighbors looked through the tree branches for squirrel and bird nests. They found squirrel nests but did not find any traces of live animals in the tree limbs.
Trees were also trimmed on S. Veitch Street and between S. Wayne and S. Adams, Alvord said.
“Our concern is that they are overly trimming trees we’d really like to save,” she said.