Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

APS Working to Keep School Construction on Track — “Top Arlington school-system staff are recommending doing whatever it takes – including shuffling money away from other projects – to ensure construction of a new elementary school in Westover does not fall behind schedule.” [InsideNova]

Yard Waste Collection Suspended Again — After a one-week reprieve, Arlington has again suspended its residential yard waste collection service. There’s no word on when it will resume, though the county has opened two yard waste drop-off centers. [Arlington County]

Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony to Be Livestreamed — On Wednesday at 8 a.m. “the Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will host a virtual Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to the memory of Arlington’s seven fallen law enforcement officers.” [Arlington County]

New Superintendent’s Introductory Remarks — “Among other things, Dr. Durán pledges to close ‘access, opportunity and achievement gaps;’ to ‘commit collectively to sustain and improve the level of academic excellence for students in APs
through an equity and inclusion lens;’ and to help students and families ‘through these troubling times times.'” [Blue Virginia]

Paper’s Prediction: Dems Win Special Election — “The field is set at three: Democrat Takis Karantonis, Republican Bob Cambridge and independent Susan Cunningham. The arrival of Cambridge is probably music to the ears of Democrats, as he will help split the anti-Democratic vote with the better-known and probably more viable Cunningham, allowing Karantonis to win and avoiding a repeat of a 2014 special election when John Vihstadt went mano-a-mano against Democrats and wrestled them into submission.” [Sun Gazette]

Amazon Running Arlington-Herndon Shuttle — “It’s too early to tell if Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) will launch a Seattle-style shuttle service for its HQ2 employees, but the company has connected its Herndon and Arlington offices via shuttle.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Participating in Virtual Tech Conference — “For the last several years, Northern Virginia has taken dozens of promising tech start-ups to the Collision conference, granting them access to programming, investors, mentors and networking opportunities. This year, the Collision organizers have moved everything online, so instead of traveling to the conference in Toronto this year, eighteen lucky start-ups from Northern Virginia will get an all-access pass to the Collision from Home tech conference.” [Press Release]

Nearby: Alleged W&OD Trail Creeper Arrested — “City of Falls Church Police arrested Lamar Dontae McCarthy, 23 years old of Stafford, VA, and charged him with assault. On Saturday, May 9, police reported to Grove Ave. and the W&OD Trail for a report of a suspect who had pursued a woman on the trail. The woman stated she saw a man in a red hooded sweatshirt suddenly stop his vehicle and sprint after her.” [City of Falls Church]

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For Lisa Ostroff, owner of Trade Roots, asking for help is a delicate thing.

While there are countless other residents and businesses in Arlington that need assistance, Ostroff is in the uncomfortable position of asking locals to consider helping tradespeople and artisans at far-flung parts of the world who lack the support of America’s admittedly porous safety net.

Ostroff’s store, Trade Roots, brings all sorts of fair trade international goods to Westover at 5852 Washington Blvd. Items range from stationery to jewelry to wine.

“It’s hard because right now people are thinking ‘I don’t need to support Peruvians, I need to support people in Manhattan,'” Ostroff said. “But when this is said and done, we need to think about the people in other countries, too.”

Ostroff said some larger companies canceled orders to foreign countries after the products had already been made, leaving goods and supplies normally welcome in the United States to pile up, disused, and the workers that crafted them left without any pay.

“That’s what companies do,” Ostroff said. “That’s not what happens with fair trade. In the whole supply chain, everybody looks out for the next guy. People I placed some orders with in January called and said ‘don’t worry, [the products] are being held here, but the artists are being paid.’ You take care of people because they take care of us.”

But Ostroff said she hasn’t been able to put in new orders

“I can’t really afford to be placing orders right now,” Ostroff said. “We’re busy selling what we have in stock. And some people I have ordered from, like those in Nepal, nothing is coming in or out because it’s landlocked.”

The store closed early in the pandemic, on March 8, but has since reopened for phone orders and Facetime shopping from 1-5 p.m., Monday-Friday. Ostroff said she was lucky that the store had a decent online presence before the pandemic; the website has since been expanded with options like ordering beer and wine online.

“Fortunately had the bones of a website in place,” Ostroff said. “We’ve been very busy adding, adding, adding to the website. A lot of people are using it. They’ve relaxed some of the rules so I’ve been selling wine to go, which I couldn’t do before.”

In the meantime, Ostroff said her store is getting through the pandemic partially by remembering what life is like for the workers they’re trying to buy from and support.

“There is a little bit of a safety net here, but in these other countries, there is no safety net at all,” Ostroff said. “They’re already living hand to mouth with no savings. It’s a lot harder. I put in a newsletter a video from Peru where they have to shelter in place and there’s a worker sheltering at their workshop with no water and no electricity to keep working.

“Our economy is in shambles but we will get back in a year or two,” she added. Workers in the developing world, however, “live like this all the time.”

Photo via Trade Roots/Facebook

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) Farmers markets in Arlington closed briefly by the coronavirus outbreak will be allowed to re-open this weekend, but with a catch: vendors can only offer food that’s been pre-ordered before the market.

The new rules are meant to bring local farmers markets in compliance with guidance from the state government. A similar policy was enacted for markets in Alexandria.

“To limit the exposure to COVID-19, vendors are not permitted to display food or on-site shopping,” Arlington County said in a press release. “This guidance enables markets to remain open giving Arlingtonians access to fresh, locally-grown food while promoting social distancing.”

While others will be opening later this spring, three Arlington farmers markets are currently in season and expected to reopen for order pickups:

Each of the markets will be limited to no more than ten customers at a time, and customers are being asked to comply with social distancing guidelines to prevent the person-to-person spread of the virus. Food orders will be boxed and the press release said customers are asked to avoid touching or inspecting their orders on-site.

Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish said that some of the vendors have options to place orders online, while others might have to be contacted directly by phone or email. While the process may be cumbersome for the first weekend, Kalish said that should be ironed out over the coming weeks.

The Columbia Pike Farmers Market announced today that it will be taking online orders for three vendors.

“To ensure we can continue to support our local farmers and provide the community with needed produce and goods while complying with state-wide guidance on distancing and gathering restrictions, we have temporarily moved our Farmers Market to the web,” said the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization. “Customers will now order from our vendors online and pick up their orders at the market on Sundays. We currently have 3 vendors prepared to take orders for pick-up THIS Sunday, March 29. Please note that orders MUST be placed in advance, unless otherwise noted. There will be no shopping at the market.”

The nearby Falls Church farmers market is also reopening this weekend with similar rules in place.

File photo

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Parents opposed to a proposed four-school swap, set for a School Board vote on Feb. 6, are ramping up pressure to scuttle the plan.

A new coalition calling itself “No School Moves” has gathered more than 1,700 signatures on a Change.org petition launched earlier this month, calling for the School Board to vote “no.”

The group opposes an Arlington Public Schools plan, endorsed by the interim superintendent, to move Key elementary students and staff to the Arlington Traditional School building, while moving Arlington Traditional students and staff to McKinley and McKinley students and staff to a new elementary school building in Westover. That would free up the Key school building near Courthouse, currently used by a Spanish immersion choice program, to become a neighborhood school as the elementary-aged population in that area continues to grow.

People who signed the petition, however, are not buying the APS rationale for the moves, which would reportedly result in more than 2,400 students moving to a new building.

“Moving schools is not creating more seats,” said one. “It’s a temporary bandaid and there is no data to support these moves.”

“These changes can have profound effects on students who get moved to new schools, and the current process is so flawed,” said another. “It could easily lead to even more rounds of redistricting in the near future.”

In addition to objections to the process, an alleged lack of supporting data, and inadequate communication from school staff, opponents say the moves would make diversity in the schools “more difficult to maintain.”

Per the petition:

The school move proposal exacerbates the county’s broader struggle with diversity. As in other communities, Arlington’s historic housing patterns have effectively segregated low-income and minority families, and its schools reflect those same patterns of segregation. Yet despite repeated requests from PTAs and parents across the county — and in the immediate aftermath of a recent settlement between Arlington Public Schools (APS) and the Justice Department over English language learners — APS staff has not performed any detailed analysis of how proposed school moves would affect the demographics of those school populations.

In a recent survey, more than 60% of Spanish-speaking families currently part of the Key Immersion school community have said they won’t be able to move with the program to its proposed new location. APS argues that Key Immersion would draw more native Spanish speakers if it were in a more central location — but their evidence for this is entirely anecdotal.

What’s more, moving the Arlington Traditional School and its VPI preschool program to the McKinley building would adversely affect low-income families who rely on public transit. Families trying to reach the school on a Metrobus could double their commute time. This would discourage enrollment for families without cars, negatively impacting the diversity of a school that has demonstrated results in closing the achievement gap for high-needs students.

Arlington Public Schools is planning to hold a public hearing on the plan on Thursday, Jan. 30, at the Syphax Education Center (2110 Washington Blvd) at 7 p.m., ahead of the scheduled Feb. 6 School Board vote.

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Firefighters battled a basement fire at a house in the Westover neighborhood over the weekend.

The fire broke out early Saturday morning on the 5900 block of Washington Blvd, a block from Westover’s main business district.

The fire was extinguished and no injuries were reported. County Fire Marshals are now investigating the cause.

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A taxi driver was stabbed by a man in Westover earlier this week, according to Arlington County Police, in a seemingly random attack.

The alleged stabbing happened around 2 a.m. Tuesday, on the 1600 block of McKinley Road. Police say the assailant — the passenger in a cab — stabbed the driver after he completed his trip.

The victim brought himself to the hospital with “minor injuries.” The suspect fled the scene and is currently being sought by police.

Police told ARLnow last night that no arrests have been made so far. The crime is not believed to be connected to Sunday’s stabbing in the Westover area, a spokeswoman said.

More from ACPD:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING (late), 2019-12100133, 1600 block of McKinley Road. At approximately 1:08 p.m. on December 10, police were dispatched to the late report of a stabbing. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 2:06 a.m., the victim was operating as a taxi driver, completed a trip and parked his vehicle to allow the passenger to exit. Upon doing so, the passenger produced a knife, reached into the front seat and struck the victim multiple times, causing lacerations. A brief struggle ensued before the suspect fled the scene on foot. The victim sustained minor injuries and later sought treatment at an area hospital and subsequently reported the incident to police. The suspect is described as a white male, approximately 5’6″, 180-200 lbs., with curly black hair, wearing gray sweatshirt and khaki pants. The investigation is ongoing.

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Two restaurants in Westover Village were burglarized overnight.

A thief struck at Lost Dog Cafe and Grand Hunan Restaurant, both on the 5800 block of Washington Blvd, in the early morning hours, smashing glass and stealing items of value.

At Lost Dog Cafe, a safe was dragged through the restaurant and pushed through the smashed front door, ARLnow hears.

At Grand Hunan, the front glass door was also smashed and items on the front counter were found askew. A security camera appeared to be disconnected above the counter.

Arlington County Police are investigating both burglaries, the first of which was discovered around 2:30 a.m.

“At approximately 1:50 a.m., an unknown suspect forced entry to a business, causing damage, and stole an undisclosed amount of cash and items of value,” ACPD said in a crime report. “The suspect is described as a male, wearing a black hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and gloves. The investigation is ongoing.”

It has been a rough year for businesses in Westover, some of which were damaged by flash flooding this summer.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report.

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Arlington County Police are investigating a stabbing Sunday night in the Westover area.

Police say a man was stabbed multiple times during an altercation with a group of three men. The victim brought himself to the hospital, where the stabbing was then reported to police.

More from an ACPD crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING (late), 2019-12080246, 1200 block of N. Kenilworth Street. At approximately 10:15 p.m. on December 8, police were dispatched to the late report of a stabbing. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 8:30 p.m., the victim was approached by three unknown male suspects. After a brief verbal exchange, one suspect displayed a knife. The victim and suspects became engaged in a physical altercation, during which the suspects assaulted him and stabbed him multiple times before fleeing the scene the scene. The victim sought assistance for non life threatening injuries at an area hospital, at which time police were contacted. The suspects are described as three white males. The investigation is ongoing.

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A fire Monday evening at an apartment building in the Westover area caused significant damage, displacing residents from six apartments.

The fire broke out shortly before 5:30 p.m. at a two-story garden apartment building on the 1100 block of N. Kensington Street. Arriving firefighters found flames shooting out of the rear of the building.

The blaze started in the living room of a first-floor apartment, but extensive smoke damage made five other apartments around it uninhabitable, according to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli.

The fire caused an estimated $1 million in damages, Tirelli said, adding that the cause is being investigating by the Fire Marshal’s Office. No injuries were reported.

The displaced residents are receiving assistance from the Red Cross.

At approximately 5:20pm units were dispatched for a garden apartment fire on the 1100 block of N Kensington St. Upon…

Posted by Arlington County Fire Department on Monday, December 2, 2019

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Morning Notes

Rep. Beyer Talks Impeachment — “Phones have been ringing all day with constituents calling to tell me they support impeachment, particularly following the President’s corrupt dealings with Ukraine. They are right.” [Twitter]

Westover School Project Moving Forward — “There will be no stay of execution for any of the trees on the chopping block as the Arlington school system moves forward with a new elementary school in Westover. School Board members on Sept. 19 voted to approve a construction contract for the $55 million project, which will drop a 725-student facility adjacent to Westover Library on North McKinley Road near Washington Boulevard.” [InsideNova]

It’s Rabies Awareness Week — “September 23-29 is Rabies Awareness Week in Virginia. Follow these five tips to help ensure you and your family are protected. 1. Get Pets Vaccinated… 2. Stay Away from Wild Animals… 3. Keep Pets Leashed… 4. Seek Medical Care Immediately if Bitten… 5. Report Animal Bites and Strange Behavior.” [Arlington County]

ARLnow Reporters Splashed — “A large pleasure boat flying a Trump flag and operating at what appeared to be higher-than-permitted speed came so close to a water taxi bound for the Wharf Sunday that many passengers were soaked when the water taxi crossed its wake. A representative for the Potomac RiverBoat Company was not able to confirm the incident over the phone but, this is Washington, and there were at least two reporters aboard the water taxi.” [Washingtonian]

‘Candi-dating’ Forum Planned — “The League of Women Voters of Arlington is partnering with a number of other organizations on a “candi-dating” forum. The event, to be held on Sunday, Oct. 6 at Walter Reed Community Center, is akin to speed-dating: Attendees will have 10 minutes to meet with candidates running for office from Arlington and Alexandria.” [InsideNova]

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Over forty trees are planned to be removed to make way for a new elementary school in Westover, but Arlington Public Schools is hosting one last meeting about potential tree-saving solutions before construction starts.

A discussion is scheduled with neighbors on Monday (Sept. 16) at the edge of the grove will involve discussion of whether any of the trees can be saved. The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the basketball court on the Reed site (1644 N. McKinley Road).

The current plans call for the removal of roughly 42 trees to facilitate construction that will add to the building that houses the Westover Library and, soon, a new neighborhood elementary school.

Residents have expressed concerns about the removal of the grove, which includes a variety of maple, cedar and mulberry trees. A presentation on the project noted that an inventory of the trees was prepared by a certified arborist and tree removal was recommended.

According to the presentation:

Decisions on tree removal balanced: Building location and required excavation, site improvements (play areas, universally accessible walkways, etc.) and underground utilities (sanitary, storm, geothermal, etc.).

The designs for the site include adding 82 replacement trees, well above the 49 trees required to be planted according to county regulations.

But the plans have drawn some criticism from neighbors and local environmentalists. County Board candidate Audrey Clement specifically addressed the County Board’s approval of the project for its destruction of the trees at a debate this past Monday  (Sept. 9). Many of the trees are larger, like a silver maple tree 4.5 feet wide.

At the meeting next Monday, the presentation says neighbors will be invited to discuss the removal with an arborist and county staff.

But any moving of the remaining trees will have to occur quickly: construction of the new school is scheduled to start by the end of September.

The Westover neighborhood suffered extensive damage from flooding this summer, but school officials said the new school will include updated stormwater protections.

“Stormwater structures and basins are much enhanced from what exists on-site now as per current state stormwater requirements,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.

Map via Arlington Public Schools

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