Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Holiday Closures Start Tomorrow — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2020, for observation of Independence Day… Metered parking [will not be] enforced July 3-4.” [Arlington County]

Affordable Housing Provider Celebrates Scholarships — “Celebrating graduation may have looked a little different this year, but we could not be any prouder of the students from our College and Career Readiness (CCR) program who graduated from high school in 2020. All 31 of the amazing young people who participated in the program this year are off to college in the fall. In total, they were accepted into 135 schools and received an estimated $1.24 million in scholarships and aid.” [AHC Inc.]

Animal Welfare League Not Reopening Yet — “For the health and safety our staff, volunteers, and the public, we have decided to remain closed for the public, but we expect to introduce in-person adoption by appointment on a very limited basis in the coming days. We also hope to begin selling spay and neuter vouchers online very soon.” [Facebook]

New Pedestrian Law Now in Effect — “Drivers must now fully stop, not just yield, for pedestrians in all crosswalks in Virginia or they could be slapped with a $500 fine. The law that went into effect Wednesday, July 1 requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in any marked or unmarked crosswalk… Last year there were 166 crashes in Arlington involving pedestrians. Four people were killed.” [NBC 4]

Another I-395 Daredevil Caught on Camera — It keeps happening: this time, a commercial vehicle was caught on video backing up and crossing all lanes of northbound I-395 to reach the HOV bridge into D.C. [Twitter]

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Virginia’s Phase 3 reopening starts today, with relaxed rules for restaurants, stores, fitness studios and social gatherings.

But as new coronavirus cases continue to surge in the South and West, the reopening raises the specter of Virginia’s waning epidemic returning.

Unlike New Jersey, which recently postponed the return of indoor dining, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is opting to continue reopening indoor, communal settings. He announced yesterday, however, that bar seating will be prohibited inside restaurants.

Arlington County, meanwhile, is encouraging residents to stay “safer at home” and to continue social distancing, telecommuting, and wearing masks in indoor public settings.

“Because Arlington is an urban, high-density area — and because there is still community spread of the virus — the County is going to similarly move forward with caution in the hopes of continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety and well-being of the entire community,” the county said in a press release today.

The press release notes that fitness rooms and gyms will reopen at four community centers — Fairlington, Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Langston Brown — next Friday, July 10.

The good news for Arlington is that the current level of coronavirus spread remains low: five new cases were reported overnight, for a seven-day total of 46. The seven-day rate of new hospitalizations stands at just three, a new low since such data started to be reliably reported by the Virginia Dept. of Health.

The county press release about the reopening is below.

Arlington County, along with the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, is transitioning to Phase 3 of the Forward Virginia plan on Wednesday, July 1.

In Phase 3, Arlington will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing and teleworking, and the requirement that individuals wear face coverings in indoor public settings. All businesses should continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces and keep enhanced workplace safety measures in place.

As part of a cautious approach to entering Phase 3, Governor Northam on Tuesday announced that bar seating will remain prohibited in restaurants to reduce the likelihood of patrons gathering in bar areas without observing social distancing guidelines. The Governor added he is prepared to implement tighter restrictions if needed.

Because Arlington is an urban, high-density area — and because there is still community spread of the virus — the County is going to similarly move forward with caution in the hopes of continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety and well-being of the entire community.

Arlington will continue to open government facilities gradually to ensure adequate space for social distancing and follow public health guidelines. […]

Playgrounds and Outdoor Restrooms Now Open, Select Fitness Rooms to Open July 10

Continuing its gradual reopening, in according with public health and safety guidelines, Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation reopened playgrounds and outdoor restrooms, including playgrounds located at Arlington Public Schools, effective Friday, June 26. Additionally, athletic field and court lighting returned to regular schedules.

Park users must continue to social distance and comply with the appropriate usage guidelines. Learn more on the Reopening Arlington Parks FAQ page.

Starting Friday, July 10, fitness rooms and gyms will reopen in four of DPR’s centers: Fairlington, Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Langston Brown.

Community and nature centers and spraygrounds remain closed.

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Morning Notes

Candidates Support Stormwater Investment — “How it gets paid for (and by whom) perhaps is a question for another day, but the three candidates in the July 7 Arlington County Board special election voiced support for increased stormwater-management efforts. ‘We need to be making a generational investment,’ said Susan Cunningham, one of three candidates on the ballot seeking to fill the seat of the late Erik Gutshall.” [InsideNova]

Analysis of N. Arlington House Numbers — “In the ZIP code 22207, serif addresses vastly outnumber sans serif addresses, 7,759 to 2,111. Many blocks feature no sans serif houses at all, or just one or two. But in isolated pockets–individual blocks or even orange and red “hot zones” spread across a couple of streets–sans serif numbers are beginning to break through.” [Slate]

How a Local Chiropractic Practice Is Doing — “Some businesses are still trying to get adjusted to the flow of business in the new normal. ‘I would say we’re about 75% close to where we were before,’ Dr. Hooman Hamidi said. Hamidi is a chiropractor in Arlington, Va. When the global pandemic shut things down, his business slowed to a crawl.” [WUSA 9]

Galaxy Hut Staying Takeout-Only, For Now — “Based on what we’ve seen, we still don’t feel it’s the safest option to allow people to hang out at our restaurants at this time. Instead, we will be expanding our pickup hours and introducing some new yums at both Galaxy Hut and Spacebar in the coming weeks.” [Facebook]

ACPD to Report More Traffic Stop Info — “The Community Policing Act, Virginia House Bill 1250, takes effect July 1, 2020. This law requires law enforcement and State Police to collect certain information from the driver during all motor vehicle (traffic) and investigatory stops and prohibits law enforcement officers and State Police from engaging in bias-based policing.” [Arlington County]

New Laws Taking Effect Today — “Marijuana will be decriminalized, local governments will have the ability to take down Confederate monuments, and Virginians will pay more in taxes for gasoline and cigarettes starting Wednesday. July 1 is the start date for most of the new laws passed earlier this year by the General Assembly.” [Associated Press]

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A new public art project set to debut later this summer will place numerous model slave ships in front of the Arlington Arts Center (3550 Wilson Blvd) in Virginia Square.

Local artist Lynda Andrews-Barry‘s display of 25 wooden slave ships, formed from driftwood collected from the Chesapeake Bay, will fill the lawn in front of the arts center. The ships will be staked into the ground and have sails that collect sunlight during the day and light up at night.

According to Barry:

This site-specific project was conceived through researching Arlington Arts Center and its location in the former Maury school. The institution’s namesake, Matthew Fontaine Maury, was a native Virginian astronomer, historian, oceanographer, meteorologist, cartographer, author, geologist, education, United States Navy officer, and Chief of Sea Coast, River and Harbor Defenses for the Confederacy. However, Maury was not a proponent of American slavery. Instead he favored relocating slaves (and their owners, if desired) to the Amazon, and sent a crew there to map the river and determine if his plan was feasible.

Maury’s proposal was part of a broader movement to relocate, rather than integrate, Black Americans formerly held as slaves. A school in Alexandria is also named after Maury.

The artwork commemorates the 12 million people captured and loaded onto those ships as cargo, some of whom Barry said she is descended from.

Megan Niewold, director of development at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, said the project was funded by a $10,000 grant. Niewold said the focus of the grant this year was on funding public art that was helping to transform communities.

“We wanted to do public art opportunities that were accessible for everyone and in a diverse area,” Niewold said. “[The project] had to be public, interactive, environmentally friendly, and had to talk about a big topic and encourage heavy discussion.”

Niewold said ten submissions were considered in the final review, but a volunteer grants committee was particularly impressed with how this design tackled race relations and the history of the Maury school — as well as the use of reclaimed driftwood.

The project was originally supposed to go up in April, Niewold said, but the foundation didn’t want to promote more public art during the height of COVID-19 so the timeline was changed to mid-August.

Image via The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia

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The National Park Service has a 3,000 pound problem: a car that ran so far off the GW Parkway that it wound up near the banks of the Potomac River.

The crash happened the afternoon of Sunday, June 7, just north of Windy Run in Arlington County.

Arlington firefighters, along with the D.C. police Harbor Patrol Unit, the D.C. fire boat and the U.S. Park Police helicopter responded to the crash scene after a report of a vehicle travelling in the northbound lanes that went over an embankment.

“Upon our arrival our incident commanders established a unified command with all agencies and our personnel located the vehicle near the water’s edge, approximately 60 feet down the embankment,” ACFD spokesman Capt. Justin Tirelli told ARLnow earlier this month.

“The driver had already extricated himself from the vehicle and we confirmed that he was the only occupant of the vehicle,” Tirelli continued. “ACFD medical personnel treated the patient and transferred care from the Virginia shoreline to the DCFD fire boat, where he was transported with non-life threatening injuries to a waiting ambulance on the D.C. shoreline.”

Hikers on the rocky Potomac Heritage Trail have since been encountering the startling sight of the crashed car, not knowing for sure whether anyone is inside.

“I was hiking the Potomac Heritage Trail this weekend and there is a car down there that was not there a few weeks ago,” local resident Melissa Mathews said in an email to ARLnow earlier this week. “It must have been driven off of the GW Parkway that runs (far, far) above the trail. The car has been tagged by either insurance or police so I assume there is no body inside.”

The crashed vehicle is located on national parkland, within the confines of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado tells ARLnow that the car will be removed, but authorities are still trying to figure out how to do that, exactly.

“The National Park Service is still trying to determine the best course of action for the vehicle’s removal,” Delgado said.

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Arlington has been removing some parking spaces to facilitate the expansion of outdoor dining in two local neighborhoods.

The County Board approved a process for restaurants to apply for expanded, temporary outdoor dining areas in late May. Since then, county crews have blocked off street parking spots in six places to allow pedestrians to better get around the sidewalk cafes.

According to Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, the repurposed parking spaces are located in the Shirlington and Clarendon areas, including:

  • Washington Boulevard between Wilson Blvd and 13th St N, about 2 parking spaces
  • Wilson Blvd between N Cleveland St and N Danville St, about 4 parking spaces
  • Wilson Blvd between N Hudson St and N Irving St, about 6 parking spaces
  • S Campbell St between S Arlington Mill Dr and S Quincy St, all on-street parking spaces
  • West side of S Randolph St immediately south of S Campbell St, a few spaces (exact number not available at this time)
  • West side of S Quincy St immediately south of S Campbell St (exact number not available at this time)

Crews were seen blocking off the Shirlington parkings areas Monday morning.

DES spokesman Peter Golkin said additional parking spaces may be repurposed as restaurants apply for Temporary Outdoor Seating Areas (TOSAs), though no additional, specific locations are currently planned.

“We are creating pedestrian space around outdoor seating as restaurants apply for outdoor seating,” Golkin said.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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(Updated at 1:35 p.m.) Someone defaced a sign promoting racial justice, placed by a church near Clarendon.

The vandalism happened overnight in front of the Clarendon United Methodist Church (606 N. Irving Street).

A photo sent to ARLnow (above) shows the words “It’s OK to be white” scrawled in block letters on the second of a pair of banners. The banners are signed by parishioners and declare: “Clarendon United Methodist Church is committed to fighting against systemic racial injustice. I will be part of the solution.”

The church tells ARLnow that it was able to successfully remove the graffiti this morning.

“We lament that anyone would choose to deface our sign but we are glad that they have given us further opportunity to affirm our stand against systemic racial injustice and our commitment to be a part of the solution,” a church employee said via email. “We restored the sign to its original intended message this morning.”

The church’s pastor, Rev. Tracy McNeil Wines, also released the following statement.

The murders of George Floyd and countless other Black men, women, and children have further brought to light a long history that bears the unmistakable stains of exclusion, oppression, and violence. We are called by conscience and by God to rise up and stand with those whose pain is etched onto the heart of our nation. We recognize the significant disparities in opportunity for all people of color in education, housing, health, and employment, and in restricted access to security and justice. As people of faith in Jesus Christ, it is essential that we act to dismantle racism.

At Clarendon United Methodist Church, we are committed to the fight against systemic racial injustice. We acknowledge that racism is a sin that works in direct opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we join in the call to resist its powerful influence. Together we yearn for a world that reflects God’s will for just treatment and full inclusion of all persons. We resolve to resist evil, injustice and oppression, and so we cannot rest until the work of dismantling racism is done. Courage and conviction are required in the fight, and we pray that God’s Spirit may empower us with grace equal to the task.

We must take both communal and individual responsibility for justice. Change ultimately begins with transformed hearts. Therefore, we commit to opening our hearts to the transforming grace of Jesus Christ. Deep repentance is required. We will seek to educate ourselves and others — to discern the breadth of racism’s impact, to see and acknowledge its effects, and to uncover its influence in our own lives and in our shared life together. We will follow equal employment practices, and intentionally increase opportunities for the voices of Black people and all people of color to be heard in the life and leadership of our church. We will work to tear down the entrenched racial and economic divide that is present in Arlington County and beyond, dedicating resources to aim at both the effects and the root causes of injustice. We affirm that this effort must be an ongoing commitment.

None of us can move forward if one of us is left behind.

This is the second such vandalism of a racial justice sign on church property in as many weeks in Arlington. The “Black” in “Black Lives Matter” was cut out of a sign in front of Rock Spring Congregational church last week. In D.C., meanwhile, a mural “lifting up the names and legacies of Dorothy Day and MLK Jr.” in front of a church was found ripped down this morning.

Photo (top) courtesy anonymous, (bottom) courtesy Clarendon United Methodist Church

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A thousand down, 24,000 still to go.

Amazon announced today that it has hired its 1,000th HQ2 employee, though its physical offices in Arlington remain closed due to the pandemic. The tech and retail giant also announced that it still plans to ultimately fill 25,000 positions at its second headquarters, potentially putting to rest speculation that HQ2 could be downsized amid a work-from-home trend.

In a post on its Day One blog, Amazon said that it was working to hire a diverse workforce in Arlington:

Amazon remains committed to filling the 25,000 roles projected for HQ2 with diverse talent from across the region. Although offices have been quiet for the past several weeks due to COVID-19, our hiring has continued as planned. We have virtually onboarded scores of talented people and recently welcomed our 1,000th employee in Arlington. Among our new hires are lifelong Northern Virginia resident Lakshmi Kopparam, one of the first software development engineers to join the Amazon Fire TV team in Arlington, and McCoy Jamison, who formerly served in the U.S. Navy and just began his role as a solutions architect with Amazon Web Services. Kopparam and Jamison are working alongside a group of senior engineers who are building a best-in-class technology culture at Amazon and contributing to the region’s growing tech ecosystem. Within the first wave of hires is a program lead who has been tasked with ensuring our HQ2 workforce is inclusive and diverse. This person will implement recruiting and HR best practices and initiatives designed to ensure inclusiveness in our products and offerings.

The blog post also detailed the millions in donations Amazon has been funneling to education, food, and relief initiatives in Arlington, D.C. and other parts of Virginia.

Construction is currently underway on the first phase of Amazon’s permanent HQ2 along S. Eads Street in Pentagon City. The 2.1 million square foot complex is expected to open in 2023 and house about half of HQ2’s 25,000 employees. Until it opens, Amazon is working out of temporary, leased space in Crystal City.

A planned second phase will build another 2.1 million square feet of office space across 12th Street S., in the vacant PenPlace lot. In the meantime, the new Amazon-funded design for nearby Metropolitan Park is being finalized, ahead of expected County Board approval this fall.

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(Updated at 12:20 p.m.) The pandemic is putting a damper on Fourth of July festivities, but Arlington County is still preparing for potential crowds at popular fireworks viewing spots.

Road closures are planned from 4-11 p.m. Saturday around the Air Force Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial and Long Bridge Park. Street parking will also be restricted in the area.

Other viewing spots that may draw fireworks crowds in Arlington include Key Bridge, Gravelly Point and Rosslyn’s Gateway Park. None of the above will be hosting formal events this year, the county says, and residents are encouraged to stay home instead.

“Considering the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, no formal events or programming are planned in Arlington County,” said a press release Monday afternoon. “Those wishing to view fireworks or flyovers are encouraged to do so at home on TV, or in adherence to current recommended social distancing protocols. Large, outdoor gatherings are still a high risk, especially when people are close together, without any guarantees of physical distancing.”

At Long Bridge Park, near Crystal City, the crowd will be capped and no on-site parking will be available.

“The park will be open for viewing, but we aren’t encouraging people to come. It’s Safer at Home!” Arlington Dept. of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish tells ARLnow. “We will be capping park attendance to 1,000 based on the Governor’s Guidelines. We will closed entrance when we hit 1,000 or by 7:30 p.m., whichever comes first.

“Social distancing is required; face coverings recommended,” Kalish added. “No fireworks or alcohol allowed in the park. No food or spiked objects (like chairs or umbrellas) allowed on the fields. And only water is allowed on the field as well.”

The pandemic has also cancelled one of Arlington’s most popular private fireworks displays.

“Due to the recent events with COVID-19, unfortunately we will not be hosting fireworks this year for the 4th of July,” Washington Golf and Country Club said on its website. “We wish everyone a happy and safe holiday!”

There is at least one community event happening on Independence Day, however: the Lyon Village Fourth of July parade will go on, starting promptly at 11 a.m. at the corner of Key Blvd and N. Jackson Street. Parade watchers are encouraged to social distance from one another.

“The Lyon Village 4th of July Parade will again take place this year,” the neighborhood’s civic association said. “It will feature a longer parade route with Arlington police and fire vehicles and a special group of antique cars.”

“The parade is honoring long time Lyon Village resident, Col. Ed Brant,” the press release notes. “For many years Col. Brant and his family drove his Model T and Model A fords in the parade. Col. Brant is now 99 years old and he will turn 100 in October.”

The full county press release about Fourth of July road closures and restrictions is below.

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Morning Notes

March Planned Tonight in Crystal City — “This Tuesday (6/30) we will be gathering in Crystal City Courtyard Green to march to Pentagon City in defense of Black womxn.” [Twitter]

Petition for APS to Require Masks — “To maximize the chances of success for Arlington Public Schools (Virginia) hybrid return to school model we urge the School Board and Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán to make face coverings compulsory for both students and teachers during the days they are at school for in-person learning. Those who object to wearing masks can always choose the distance-learning option.” [Change.org]

Local Church to Feed Thousands — “On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Our Lady Queen of Peace (OLQP) in south Arlington is working with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) to feed families in need of food assistance. World Central Kitchen is providing 3,500 meals to OLQP for distribution to the community. Meals will be offered to take home in conjunction with pre-packed food the OLQP food pantry distributes every Wednesday morning. This is the second time WCK will be providing meals to OLQP during the pandemic.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

Catholic Churches Enter ‘Phase 3’ — “All 70 parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will move into phase three of Virginia’s reopening plan on Wednesday. Officials announced Monday that each parish is ‘able, but not mandated, to celebrate public Mass with capacity restrictions lifted’ beginning on July 1.” [Fox 5]

County Adjusts Committee Meeting Rules — “After facing a rebellion from members and chairs of advisory commissions, the Arlington County Board has revised rules for holding meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the two biggest changes from the original plans: Commission chairs (apparently) will no longer have to seek county-staff permission to hold meetings. Advisory-group meetings will be allowed in-person or in a hybrid format, in addition to the previously announced “virtual”-only arrangement.” [InsideNova]

New Construction Contract for VHC Inked — “Skanska USA has inked more work with Virginia Hospital Center as the Arlington hospital soldiers on with its $250 million expansion project. The construction company said Monday it signed a contract worth $96 million for site work for the new outpatient pavilion and parking garage at the hospital. That’s on top of a $37 million contract with VHC it grabbed late last year.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Arlington lost two giants of local civic life in successive days last week.

Jim Pebley died after a battle with cancer on Tuesday, June 23. The day prior, George Keating died of a sudden heart attack.

The following obituary of Keating was written by former Arlington School Board member Elaine Furlow.

George Markey Keating, 71, a longtime civic activist in Arlington, Va., died suddenly of a heart attack on June 22, 2020. As a three-term president of the Waverly Hills Civic Association, Keating championed numerous neighborhood improvements, working closely with Arlington County officials and stakeholders. Most recently, after his retirement, he was tireless in his efforts to improve stormwater drainage in the most flood-prone areas of Arlington.

In 2018 and 2019, as reported by ARLnow.com, water was flooding cars and basements at record levels. When water was rushing down neighborhood streets, Keating helped document the situations and the despair that his neighbors felt. In the county manager’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) released this June, $50.8 million has been proposed for stormwater management bonds for consideration by the voters on November 3.

“On issues large and small, George was as gentlemanly as he was passionate about the future of Waverly Hills and the Lee Highway corridor,” said County Board member Katie Cristol. “When the neighborhood experienced historic flooding two years in a row, it was George who capably organized other residents to advocate for new public investments, and who worked diplomatically and analytically with County staff in developing projects.” Cristol said Keating’s passing “is a loss for the community, and those of us on the County Board will truly miss working with him.”

“When it came to community participation,” recalled Sandi Chesrown, vice-chair of Plan Lee Highway, “George didn’t just talk about helping–he immediately and tenaciously tackled whatever the issue, benefiting his Waverly Hills neighborhood and Lee Highway Alliance.  We will always be grateful for George’s friendship and leadership.”

The five miles along Lee Highway in Arlington are soon to undergo redevelopment that combats climate change, strengthens housing and retail, and improves walkability and attractiveness of the corridor. The Lee Highway Alliance (LHA), a consortium of civic groups, business and property owners, and interested citizens, first started the work more than a decade ago. Keating was a member of LHA’s Community Advisory Committee (LHA CAC) and also a member of the Plan Lee Highway Community Forum.

He also helped to gain County Board approval for the Artis Senior Living project, which will add housing options for older residents who need assistance. Ginger Brown, LHA’s executive director, said, “George truly believed in housing for all ages and income levels.”

Tyler Wilson, past president of the Waverly Hills Civic Association, remarked, “Every successful community needs a few people with initiative, motivation and the energy to focus on the greater good and to create a sense of togetherness. George had all those qualities and more.”

Keating is survived by his wife Ellen, sons Owen and Brendan, and granddaughters Eleanor, Alice and Mercedes. He graduated from Georgetown University in 1971 and completed a Master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Minnesota.

Keating loved books and authors. He spent his career in publishing, first managing Canal Street Books in Georgetown and Brentano’s stores in Connecticut and New York. He joined Simon & Schuster in 1978 as a sales representative and rose to become the eastern divisional sales manager. He helped launch and promote a stream of authors including David McCullough, Doris Kearns Goodwin and Bob Woodward. After leaving S&S, he became director of sales and marketing at the Naval Institute Press, helping to revitalize its book publishing division. Keating retired in 2015.

Photo via Facebook

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