Williamsburg Boulevard is scheduled for a construction project this fall as the county works to add rain gardens, more trees and new pedestrian crosswalks to the street.
A date for construction has not been set, but it should start in the fall and last three to five months, said Jessica Baxter, a spokeswoman for Arlington County.
The county may also hold off on some landscaping, tree planting and final paving until spring 2016 if the weather is bad in the fall, she said.
The road will remain open in both ways during construction, but the bicycle lanes will be closed. Pedestrians crosses will still be available.
The stretch of Williamsburg Boulevard is in a residential area, and the construction will only occur between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays in order to reduce the noise level, Baxter said.
Once construction is completed, a newly paved Williamsburg Boulevard will have new curbs where it intersects with 33rd Road N. and 35th Street N., new crosswalks that are compliant with the American Disabilities Act and more canopy trees between 34th Street N. and 35th Street N.
The street will also have two rain gardens, which will help clean polluted runoff.
Canopy trees will also be added to the stretch of Williamsburg Boulevard between Old Dominion Drive and 33rd Road N.
Old Dominion Drive is currently under construction and the two projects are being coordinated to keep traffic delays to a minimum, Baxter said.
“Construction activities between the two projects will be coordinated to reduce traffic delays as much as possible. Drivers may experience some delays trying to access North Glebe Road from Williamsburg Boulevard, particularly after 9 a.m.,” she said.
Baxter said the exact cost of the project has not been determined.
“Construction plans are still being finalized, and the specific contracting mechanism for the bioretention component is still being determined,” she said. “At this time, the construction cost estimate for the project ranges from $600k to $700k. The County is fully funding the project with the majority of the funding coming from the Stormwater Fund.”
Proactive shoppers can get a head start on next season’s holiday shopping at specialty gift store Two the Moon’s (6501 29th St. N) upcoming Christmas in July sale.
Two the Moon, which opened last year, sells an eclectic selection of primarily local merchandise, ranging from pottery to greeting cards to baby clothes. During the one-day Christmas in July sale, owner Johanna Braden says all holiday items in the store will be 40 percent off, including holiday merchandise for the upcoming seasons of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. All other store items will be 10 percent off.
The bulk of Two the Moon’s offerings are made in Arlington or, barring that, somewhere in the USA. The shop currently carries goods from about 25 different Arlington artisans, including headbands and bows, jewelry, handmade cards and canvas tote-bags. Braden also works to hire locally and says she has given both neighborhood mothers and kids jobs at the store.
Braden opened the store on Sept. 2, 2014 after ending her 35-year career in nursing. Owning a local gift shop had long been a dream of hers, and because she knew that nothing like it existed in the Williamsburg neighborhood where she lived, she decided to give it a shot.
Braden says that business has been “phenomenal” ever since she opened up shop last year.
“Just the other day, someone came in and told me that on the last day of school this year, all the kids came in with gifts for their teachers, and they were all Two the Moon bags!,” said Braden. “It’s great — that’s just so great to hear.”
The Christmas in July sale is scheduled for July 18 from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., with a “rain date” of July 19. Regular store hours are Sunday 12 p.m.-5 p.m. and Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Arlington County plans to make permanent repairs to a sinkhole on Williamsburg Blvd in the coming weeks.
The sinkhole first appeared in February due to a water main break which created a small geyser near the corner of Williamsburg Blvd and Sycamore Street.
The temporary repairs, now several months old, allowed the road to reopen but are not a permanent solution. A large indentation in the road is “still there and getting worse,” with some cars having to swerve onto the median to avoid the hazard, according to resident Joe Keeley.
Permanent patching is scheduled for the “trouble spot” sometime within the next two weeks, according to Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Jessica Baxter.
Baxter said that the repairs in February were indeed temporary, and that final repairs had not taken place yet partially because hot mix asphalt — the material needed for permanent repairs — is not typically available in the winter months.
Instead, Baxter said that road crews used cold mix asphalt to perform temporary repairs and planned to return for final repairs when the weather warmed up.
In this case, Baxter said the road requires a full-depth repair, which involves installing a new sub-base layer of gravel and replacing both the base and top base layers of the road. Repairs are expected to cost approximately $3,500.
Reward Paid for Bank Robbery Tip — Arlington County Crime Solvers has paid a reward for a tip received that led to the arrest of a bank robbery suspect. The tipster called a 1-800 number to leave a tip after seeing a press release about the Dec. 6 robbery at Capital One Bank in Ballston Common Mall. [Arlington County]
Williamsburg Middle School Closed Monday — Williamsburg Middle School was closed Monday due to a pipe that burst over the weekend, damaging part of the school. [WUSA 9]
‘CoworkCafe’ Launches in Clarendon — A new coworking space concept called CoworkCafe has launched in the lounge next to Boccato Gelato in Clarendon. For $150-200 per month, those seeking to get work done can access the lounge as often as they like. They also get a $50 credit toward food and beverage. [Washington Business Journal]
Solar Co-Op Launching in Arlington — A group of Arlington residents is banding together to form a solar co-op, which will allow members to obtain bulk discounts on the purchase and installation of home solar power equipment. [Sun Gazette, Virginia Sun]
‘Soulless’ Tweeter Spotted in Arlington — Byron Tau, the Wall Street Journal reporter who asked last week if Arlington was the “most soulless place in the United States,” was photographed over the weekend smiling widely at Courthouse’s Fire Works Pizza. “No comment on the record,” Tau tweeted in response to the photo. [Twitter]
Reminder: Pothole, Water Main Break Reporting — As the freeze, thaw, refreeze cycle continues during the month of February, numerous water main breaks and large potholes have been reported around Arlington. If you spot one that needs to be fixed, you can quickly file a report about it via the following “report a problem” online form. [Arlington County]
A new gift shop, Two the Moon, is now open in the Williamsburg Shopping Center (6501 29th Street N.).
Two the Moon opened on Sept. 2 and is owned by Williamsburg resident Johanna Braden. Braden retired earlier this year as an end-of-life specialist with Virginia Hospital Center, where she had worked the past 10 years. She said she retired “for about a half a day, until the house was clean,” before she decided to get to work opening up a gift shop.
“The kids don’t need me anymore, so my husband asked me what I wanted to do,” she said in her Boston accent. “Who asks a 56-year-old woman what she wants to do?”
She said she knew immediately she wanted to open a gift shop in her neighborhood, so she leased the basement space in the strip mall, which had been vacant for seven years since Action Music moved out of the space. It was “in ruins” she said, but in six months she, her family and friends fixed it up and made it ready to use.
Now open, the shop features gifts and wares from about 20 Arlington vendors as well as people from the surrounding area and up and down the East Coast. Braden keeps a book with the stories of each artist or vendor sold in the shop, so she and her employees can give the full story to every customer.
“It’s a fun place,” she said as she waltzed around the store, proudly showing stationery with drawings of Westover landmarks, blankets made from recycled cotton and linens made by a cancer survivor that say “Fork Cancer.” “I think it’s going to be a hit. I really want it to be about community, because I live in the community and I care about the community.”
The store is open from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, from noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sundays and closed on Mondays. For one weekend a month, Braden is planning on holding a showcase for an Arlington artist and serving wine and cheese. This past weekend, the artist was Jessica Lee Designs, which specializes in handmade jewelry.
Arlington County Police are closing the investigation into the fatal pedestrian crash that occurred in front of Nottingham Elementary School on Feb. 24.
After a month-and-a-half accident investigation, police have charged 33-year-old Manassas resident Marvin Valladres with “failure to pay full time and attention,” a traffic infraction. He will not face more serious criminal charges, like negligence or involuntary manslaughter.
Valladres had just left a nearby construction site and was driving his dump truck down N. Little Falls Road around 11:30 a.m. when a passenger side step caught the open rear sliding door on 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson’s minivan, according to investigators. Lawson had just finished putting her young child in a car seat and was standing next to the driver’s side door when the truck drove by, ripping the sliding door off the minivan and fatally injuring her, police said.
Following the crash, neighbors in the Williamsburg neighborhood held a community meeting, with many calling for answers and accountability. Investigators, however, believe this is a case of a tragic accident.
Valladres was “very cooperative” during the investigation, there was “no indication of any driver distraction or alcohol involved” in the accident, and there was also “no indication of any speeding violation,” according to ACPD Dep. Chief Daniel J. Murray.
(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) Dozens of students who will be attending the new elementary school at Williamsburg Middle School’s campus participated in the new school’s groundbreaking yesterday afternoon.
The approximately 97,000-square-foot elementary school is planned to open before the 2015 school year. The school is planned to be one of the few schools in the country to be energy neutral, meaning the energy it generates with solar panels and other sources will be enough to completely power the school.
“We won’t be relying on Dominion Power,” Arlington Public Schools Director of Facilities Planning Scott Prisco said during the groundbreaking ceremony, held in the Williamsburg gymnasium. “It’s important to show the idea of sustainable design… can look absolutely stellar.”
The new school doesn’t have a name yet — APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said that will come after a principal is hired and there is community outreach to settle on the proper name — but Superintendent Patrick Murphy tried to imbue upon the future students that they were becoming a part of history.
“When you’re my age or even older, you can reflect on that you were a part of this groundbreaking for this school,” he said to the dozens of children in attendance.
The construction is expected to cost about $35 million, for a total school cost of $46.5 million. Prisco said yesterday that the project is within budget so far. School Board Chair Abby Raphael beamed when discussing the process of getting the school built and approved.
“It was a really positive boundary process, and that doesn’t happen very often,” she said. “The school is not just a building, it’s a community.”
(Updated at 2:10 p.m.) About 100 residents packed the auditorium at Nottingham Elementary School last night, less than three weeks after a mother placing a child in her minivan was killed by a dump truck in front of the school.
Arlington County Police Chief Doug Scott gave members of the Williamsburg Civic Association updates on the investigation into the death of 39-year-old Jennifer Lawson, and he took questions from more than 20 residents, most of whom demanded action to increase pedestrian safety in the area.
Scott said the driver of the truck was neither speeding nor distracted when his vehicle struck Lawson’s minivan.
“The driver has been very cooperative with the investigation,” Scott said. “We’ve done a forensic exam of his cell phone and that was not an issue… This was not a cut-through traffic situation. This gentleman was doing contract work in your neighborhood. He had been in and out of the neighborhood a couple of times that day.”
“It was a matter of inches,” he said.
Speakers said the police presence in the area for a few days after the collision has since disappeared, leading many to criticize the police’s presence along Lee Highway nearby, where cars are frequently stationed for hours. Scott said that squad cars are placed where there are the most complaints, but even if they were in the residential neighborhood, “a majority of the tickets we write are to people who live in those communities.”
Julie Monticello, a mother of six who lives on N. Ohio Street across from the school, said members of the community have to also look inward after the accident.
“I couldn’t sleep that night not only because of Jen, but also because of that dump truck driver, because it could have been any of us,” she said, while fighting back tears. “I know that’s so hard to say. That man is not a murderer, everyone should say a prayer for that man, because he’s not a murderer.”
Monticello was not the only person to get emotional while speaking on the microphone. Richard Sheehey, who lives on N. Kensington Street, choked up several times during his plea for speed bumps and a lower speed limit on his street and throughout the neighborhood. There had been a traffic calming committee a few years ago, Sheehey said, but they were one vote from approving changes and the committee has since been disbanded.
“I get very emotional about this,” he said. “I don’t want to see what happened to Jen happen to any one of our kids… Nobody likes speed bumps, but it’s the No. 1 way to slow traffic down. If a car hits a child at 25 mph, that child has a good chance of survival. If a car hits a child at 35 mph, that kid’s going to die. So please help us.”
Del. Patrick Hope (D) was in attendance, and told the civic association that he plans to introduce a bill in the House of Delegates next year that would allow localities to lower their speed limits below the state minimum of 25 mph to 20 mph. A majority of the speakers agreed that even 20 mph was too fast for the streets in the area.
“Fifteen miles-per-hour just tells people that there are people crossing the street,” Monticello said. “When there’s children crossing the street constantly, the speed limit has to be 15. Twenty-five doesn’t send the message.” (more…)
If passed, the motion would fund $781,082 for street improvements on 24th Street N. from Illinois Street to Kensington Street; $159,751 for new streetlights on S. Edison Street from George Mason Drive to 11th Street; and $521,409 for median and striping improvements on N. Sycamore Street from 26th Street to Williamsburg Blvd.
The three projects were recommended by the Neighborhood Conservation Action Committee. The money would come from the Neighborhood Conservation Program, an $11 million pot of money used for relatively small citizen-initiated projects. The three projects would be the third installment of the latest Neighborhood Conservation fund, approved by referendum last year. Four projects were funded last fall and five were funded this spring. If approved, the program would have $4,866,407 in funding left for future projects.
The projects were selected on a points-based system. They were the three highest-scoring projects out of the 25 proposals the NCAC reviews. County staff supported the NCAC’s recommendations in its report..
The item is on the Board’s consent agenda, which means unless a Board member or a citizen decides it warrants further analysis at the Board’s Tuesday meeting, it should pass without additional discussion on Saturday.
Lisa Aneiva, of FITLoose Health and Fitness, says she’s using Zumba to improve the social development of children ages 0-3. Aneiva said the program, called Zumbini, is “unique in its design to build positive associations with living a musical lifestyle at the earliest possible age.”
Children and their caregivers can sign up for six- or 12-week sessions, which take place at Jung Do Kwan Martial Arts, at 6408 Williamsburg Blvd, in the Williamsburg neighborhood.
“One of the goals of Zumbini is to build collective consciousness, experience, and memory for the children, much as some traditional societies do in their music and dance ritual,” Aneiva said. “Value rests in the bonding and social learning, which occurs uniquely in a multiage, communal setting.”
The classes consist of the instructor leading the dances and caregivers following along with their children. Included in a session are “structured dances, some seated songs with small movement and finger play, a dance with scarves, a structured instrument song, and a free instrument ‘jam session’ when participants choose their favorite percussion instruments to play to the beat,” according to Aneiva.
Classes include songs in different languages and the original music is provided by Zumba Fitness, which launched the Zumbini program this fall. Formerly Zumba of North Arlington, FITLoose is one of the first Zumbini programs in the area, Aneiva said. Those interested in the classes can enroll here.
Photo via FITLoose
An officer responded to the 3500 block of N. Nottingham Street around 9:40 p.m. on Saturday, April 27, for a report of a loud party, according to police. Upon arriving, the officer approached the house and observed a large number of young people.
“Numerous” party-goers then began fleeing from the home by jumping over fences into nearby yards, while others started throwing beer cans and bottles at the officer, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Backup units arrived on scene and the remaining partyers were rounded up. In all, 43 people between the ages of 15 and 18 were charged with underage consumption of alcohol.
“Many of them were rude and uncooperative,” Sternbeck said. Another 16 juveniles were released into the custody of their parents without charges after a voluntary breath test revealed no traces of alcohol, Sternbeck said.
“Let’s just say there were a lot of unhappy parents responding to the 3500 block of N. Nottingham Street that night,” said Sternbeck.
No charges have been filed against the homeowner, who was not present at the time of the party but was later reached by police via phone. Police were unable to locate the suspects who threw the cans and bottles at the officer, Sternbeck said.
Update on 4/4/13 — The store is expected to hold a grand opening April 5 and 6. The store is owned by Bill and Kasi Hansen. Bill is a Yorktown High School graduate and “longtime local resident,” according to a press release. Zinga will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
According to the shop’s Facebook page, the goal is to open next week. Photos have been popping up on the page highlighting the store’s construction progress, such as the new outdoor sign and the arrival of the froyo machines. Customers are encouraged to “like” the page for special deals that will only be available to fans.
Zinga! will be the newest shop to cash in on the froyo trend by featuring machines that allow customers to serve themselves and then pay for the product by weight. There will be three dozen rotating flavors and 50 toppings to choose from.
The Facebook page also encourages anyone interested in working at the new location to contact Drew Hafer at [email protected]
Another Zinga! Frozen Yogurt is expected to open in Falls Church in late May.
Photos via Facebook
According to its website, national chain Zinga Frozen Yogurt plans to move into the vacant space at 2914 Sycamore Street, which used to house Garden City Florist.
Like many of the froyo stores popping up around the county, Zinga allows customers to serve themselves one of the three dozen rotating frozen yogurt flavors. There are more than 50 toppings to choose from, and the finished product is sold by weight.
Zinga sets itself apart from similar establishments with its freshly baked “bottomz” — such as waffle bowls, brownies and vanilla cake — which customers can use as a base on which to build their frozen creations.
So far there has not be an announcement about when construction will begin or when the store is expected to open.
The 2012-2013 school year is a big one for Arlington Public Schools, as it takes on the task of changing school boundaries and admissions policies. The first opportunity for the public to get involved is at a School Board work session tonight (Wednesday).
At the meeting, the School Board will review the current boundary policy and discuss the scope of the boundary changes to be considered. The work session will take place in room 101 of the Education Center (1426 N. Quincy Street) at 7:45 p.m.
The public is allowed to attend but not offer comments at the work session, which is considered a preliminary meeting to figure out the direction the boundary process will take in the coming months. Public engagement sessions will officially kick off late next month. At that time, residents may raise concerns and offer suggestions for boundary issues requiring further examination.
“We’re very interested in being transparent and engaged with the community in this process. We want people to be engaged because boundary changes will be a part of our future for many years,” said APS Director of Facilities Planning Alison Denton. “We want to establish a process that works and that is transparent.”
Policy requires this process for projects listed in the proposed APS Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) presented by Superintendent Dr. Patrick Murphy in May. The $538 million CIP includes funding for two new elementary schools and additions to three others to address the school system’s capacity issues.
“We’re seeing an influx of students to the point where we’re running out of space, especially at the elementary level,” said APS spokesman Frank Bellavia.
In preparation for the new schools and new additions, new school boundaries must be decided upon to better distribute students in the most overcrowded areas, such as the northwest portion of the county.
“This is just the beginning discussion. We don’t know yet how large the boundaries are going to be or how small they’re going to be,” Bellavia said.
So far, there’s no firm timetable for having a boundary plan completed. It could be finished by the end of this school year, but that’s still up in the air and should be discussed at tonight’s work session, according to Denton.
The Republican congressman is running for governor in his home state of Indiana. According to The Journal Gazette — a publication in Fort Wayne, Ind. — accusations are flying due to Pence’s house in the Williamsburg neigborhood.
His Democratic opponent, John Gregg, claims Pence spends too much time in the D.C. area and not enough time in Indiana. Gregg acknowledges that Pence is a legal resident of Indiana, but believes his time living in Arlington may have caused him to become out of touch with Indiana residents.
The article quotes Gregg as saying, “It’s a question of whether or not they’ve gone Washington with them being out there.”
Although he hasn’t offered a specific breakdown of how much time he spends in each location every year, it’s common knowledge in political circles that Pence’s family lives in Arlington while Congress is in session. His two younger children attend school in Arlington, and his oldest attends Purdue University in Indiana.
Pence, who has been in Congress since 2000, bought his house in Arlington in 2002 for almost $400,000. Currently, records show the property to be assessed at nearly $620,000.
Photo via Google Streetview