Sunday, September 30, 2007

Mike McMenamin to "Meet-n-Greet" in Buckingham

County Board candidate, Mike McMenamin (Republican), will speak to Buckingham residents at a community forum hosted by the Buckingham HeraldTrib
Sunday Oct. 14, 2 to 4 p.m.

The forum will be held at the Arlington Oaks Community Center, 4490 N. Pershing Dr. (at the corner of N. Pershing and N. 2nd Street, across N. Pershing from Culpepper Gardens). Parking is limited to on-street, so walk if you can.

Mr. McMenamin plans to bring a Spanish-language interpreter with him, so Spanish speakers are encouraged to attend.

Food and beverages will be served.

Mr. McMenamin won about 19,000 votes last year in his first run for the county board, losing to incumbent Democrat Chris Zimmerman, who won the three-way board race with over 43,000 votes. Last year was Mr. McMenamin’s first run for board over what he saw as a county government out of touch with the neighborhoods. His jump into politics started with his and his neighbor’s inability to get a stop sign erected in their neighborhood.

A member of the county’s Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee with two children in public schools, Mr. McMenamin calls himself a “details man” on his web site. His platform is focused on working with neighborhoods, having responsible, what he calls independent, leadership, and responsible spending. He particularly concerned with construction delays and budget overruns, his web site says.

The general election is Tuesday Nov. 6, with 13 seats from school board to Virginia Senate up for grabs, including two places on the county board. Five candidates are vying for those two seats.

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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Design Review Committee to Discuss Glebe/Pershing Redevelopment

Redevelopment of the commercial space at the intersection of N. Pershing Drive and N. Glebe Road will take another step as representatives of Georgetown Strategic Capital meet with the Design Review Committee on Wednesday evening, Oct. 3.

“I don’t expect to see any plans yet,” said Rebeccah Ballo, a preservation planner in the county’s Department of Community Planning, Housing and Development. She expects it to be more of a “discussion” about land use, transportation and other topics, as well as a preliminary discussion of a submissions deadline for the upcoming year.

“I don’t think anything is on paper yet as to actual proposed buildings,” she said.

The HALRB discussed the development briefly in July. (Click here to see the original story and the clarification.)

Although the general plan for the space is to leave the buildings on the east side of Glebe Road (the side with the Post Office) untouched, Georgetown Strategic has not figured out what will happen with the west side, said Bob Moore, a principal partner with the firm. The plans depend greatly on what the county allows.

Everything is still on the table including razing the CVS and Glebe Market buildings and replacing them with four-storey buildings of mixed retail and living space, Mr. Moore said.

“That’s all part of the discussion,” he said. Everything is still so up-in-the-air that Wednesday’s DRC meeting might just be the first and last time his company brings the plans to the county, he said, joking.

Mr. Moore said for a major change on the west side to work, underground parking will be a necessity. However, he said they will start on Wednesday by looking at the ground floors of the buildings, especially looking at surface-level parking and transportation, “the access and egress” as he called it.

He said companies like CVS require surface parking as people will not park in a basement to run in quickly to shop. One idea moves the CVS into the space of the Glebe Market while the CVS corner gets renovated.

“[We’re] trying to work out all the logistics of the ground floor,” he said.

(County staff has said that the Glebe Market will be shutting its doors by the end of next year, or earlier.)

The Design Review Committee is a part of the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board, which oversees the historic sections of the Buckingham neighborhood, including the retail buildings on all four corners.

According to the county’s web site, The DRC is made up of professional architects who review the appropriateness of changes. The property is owned by Jenco group and its partners and investors.

“I don’t know what kinds of discussions they’ve [Georgetown Capital has] been having with the planners” and other boards in the county, said Ms. Ballo.

She called the county review board process a “big sieve.” A developer pushes an idea through all the different holes—the Site Plan Review Committee, the Board of Zoning Appeals, the Historical Affairs and Landmark Review Board—at the same time to see what comes through the other side.

Mr. Moore said he does not see interference between his ideas and the renovation that the county has underway for the streetscape of that corner.

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Is This Fall?

According to the, the high in ZIP code 22203 was 88 degrees yesterday and has been in the 80s all week. (Hello! It's September!) Yet that didn’t seem to bother these maple trees at K.W. Barrett Elementary School. They’re changing whether the weather complies or not.

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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Letter: Writer Decides FOR Mini-golf


You might recall that I was against making a quick objection to the idea of the miniature golf course. I was not prepared to vote, and I wanted time to consider the idea.

[To read the original story and the comments on it, click here. --ST]

After speaking to many of my neighbors at the Carlin, (and their family members), I have now made my decision.

I went to two other golf parks and found that the parks were used primarily by families with small children. Both of the parks were peaceful, and I was told that there were no crime problems near, or inside the parks. It appears that these parks attract the best of our fellow county residents.

I now believe that the golf park would make me, and my neighbors safer than we are now. The more good citizens walking around the neighborhood, the safer I feel.

Some of my neighbors mentioned that it would be nice to be able to walk to the park with their grand children. I must agree that having something fun to do in the neighborhood is a plus.

Most of the visitors would park inside the county garage. The coming and going of these cars would make our mall safer.

This greensward at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Randolph Street, adjacent to the Ballston Common Mall garage, may be developed into a miniature golf course.

I am now more than 98 percent in favor of the golf park. If it is built, I could enjoy standing outside of the fence and watching the little children learning to play golf. On occasion, I would also enjoy a game of golf.

I now believe the addition of a golf park to the new ice rink, would actually raise our property values. If you and I wanted to talk about something that was happening in our neighborhood, we could enjoy conversing while playing a round of miniature golf. I think you, as a reporter, might find that people open up more when they are playing golf.

The golf park would not attract a huge crowd, but it would bring added revenue to the mall. If the stores in our mall do not make a profit, we might actually see the mall go away, or worse, it might become one of those malls that have more vacancies than nice stores. More customers, particularly customers who come into the mall with their families, equals a nicer, more upscale mall for all of us.

Mick Pulliam

Mr. Pulliam is an active member in the Buckingham Community Civic Association.

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Letter: Chicken Meatloaf Unveiled!

Stove Top Is the Secret to the Recipe (below).

Hi Steve,

I am delighted to say that I feel just a little bit famous today because of you. That was my hideous chicken meatloaf that you were courageous enough to sample and write about. [For the original story, click here. --ST]

I confess that it did look completely awful (or more so than usual). I only remembered the potluck late the night before and I was on the hook for a main dish according to the flyer. Since the only semi-appropriate meal idea I could come up with was the meatloaf using what fixings I had on hand (ground chicken and a box of Stove Top Stuffing), I decided to go ahead and attempt to make my husband’s “starving bachelor” version of meatloaf.
Stove Top...instead of potatoes. (Image: Kraft Foods.)

You mix the meat and the stuffing together with an egg or two and some ketchup, etc. and voila. I wanted it to hurry up and cook and cool since it was already after 11:00 p.m. so I spread it all out in the pan. I knew that it had a bizarre appearance and people would be stumped so I put a sticky label on it to define it.

I’m glad you didn’t find it completely revolting (or were kind enough not to say so). It was a bit dense and dry though. I figured there is some comfort in anonymity at pot lucks!

Thanks for keeping us all informed and entertained.

Allison Kennett

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

HeraldTrib Today: Sept. 26, 2007

Slow news this week, sorry. But there’s stuff here for you to read.

DON’T FOGET THIS SUNDAY: The HeraldTrib’s first “Meet-n-Greet” with Josh Ruebner, (Green Party) at 2p.m. at the Arlington Oaks Community Center. He’ll talk, take questions, and mingle. He is bringing a Spanish-language interpreter. Light food and beverages will be served. (Click the link for more information.)

Other Meet-n-Greets with county board candidates:

  • Mike McMenamin (R), Sunday Oct. 14, 2p.m., Arlington Oaks Community Center
  • Mary Hynes (D), Monday Oct. 22, 7p.m., Arlington Oaks Community Center.

  • The HeraldTrib is unaffiliated with any political party, but offers these as a public service. More on the other two candidates will be posted as we near those events. --ST

    The purchase and renovation of Buckingham Village 3 was the topic du jour at the Buckingham Village 3 Working Group on Monday, Sept. 24. The group, largely responsible for what happens to Village 3, discussed who should sit on a panel to review developer proposals and what that request for proposals should look like.

    In the negotiations between county staff, citizens and Paradigm Development Cos. regarding the future of Buckingham Villages, Village 3 fell under the protection of the county’s Historic Affairs and Landmark Review Board and is the village that will remain closest to what it is today.

    In the negotiations, the county agreed to buy Village 3 for about $32 million, through a developer, from Paradigm Development Co, which owns the property. No money has yet been spent on the purchase. The working group will help woo and choose the developer with the idea that some, or all, of Village 3 would change from rental to co-operative, condominium or a mixture of the two.

    Village 3 sits on Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas Street. More on this when the request is closer to completion.

    My column at the Arlington Connection has resumed. (It's about Arlington Freecycle).

    For more stories that you might have missed, feel free to scroll down from this page, or click these links.

    Today's Headlines:

  • Pot-Luck Surprise (My simple take on Barrett’s PTA potluck last night).
  • Police Notes for Buckingham (A foiled mugging tops the list.)

    Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Barrett to Practice Lockdowns and Shelter-in-Place Drills
  • Mini-Golf Plans Progressing (but BCCA President Pat Hope wants to take a step back—read his comment at the end of the story.)

  • Troubles clicking through these links? Just scroll down, the stories are all there. --ST

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    PTA Pot-Luck Surprise

    I am pot-luck-cursed, as a general rule. I’m a guy who gets to the line just as the deviled eggs have run out and sits at his table just as the next platter of them is placed. Alas.

    Last night’s PTA pot luck at K.W. Barrett Elementary School was no different. I’m used to it, so it does not really bother me (I can happily eat anything), except when I have the kids with me. They are good eaters, but some pot luck fare just is not for them.

    The KFC and the hot dogs were gone by the time we made our way through the line (and the pizza had not yet arrived—you see what I mean). Still, the curse is not that bad as we had salads and fruits; Hazel ate the pasta with chili (a favorite of hers); Harry dined primarily on fruit, crackers and rice, at least I think he ate the rice. I got salad, fruit and a very nice enchilada, very simple, but good, about the size of Churchill cigar (though I forgot the tomatillo salsa since I was helping my own kids). For a potluck, we ate healthy.

    Now a number of us, myself included on the first pass through the line, missed the chicken meatloaf. It was a little off-putting as pot-luck foods can sometimes be; you know I’m right.

    These foods are made by someone you don’t know with unknown ingredients. These, I’ve found, are often the family recipes that have made it through generations of cooks who grew up with this food at their own family gatherings, and expect them, like deviled eggs at a church social. Since they're made for gatherings, these foods are often of the "fill the pot with the ingredients and cook it" variety--easy and big. I'm not complaining, but sometimes you look and wonder, "just what's in this 'Noodle Surprise'?" I’m not saying this chicken meatloaf was this; in fact I’m guessing it’s a diet-driven recipe. Still, it was, as I say, a little off-putting.

    Not only was this one tan, not really a meatloaf color, it was not cooked in a regular loaf pan, the type for bread, but baked in a jelly-roll pan, like brownies, so the slice came out about the size of a deck of cards.

    I was up at the line a second time looking for pizza for Harry (it was gone for the second time), when I snagged the chicken meatloaf since the Churchill cigar enchilada had not been quite enough. Harry got grapes and watermelon.

    Those of you who missed out, missed out. It was quite good, tasting much more like meatloaf than I’d expected. You could have had some if you’d risked it. Alas.

    The gymnasium was cavernous, cacophonous and chaotic, as you might expect, but the hundreds of people seemed to find one another to sit and eat with, and I got to know a couple parents of my kids’ friends a little more. It was fun. And I’m hoping no one noticed just how many ginger snaps I ate.

    I’m sorry I didn’t even think to break out the cell phone to snap a few photos.

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    Police Notes for Buckingham

    Sept. 21: Attempted Robbery, 4000 block of N. 5th St. At approximately 9:05 p.m. on, a man was walking home when he noticed two males following him. When the victim reached his building, one of the suspects ran towards him, sprayed pepper spray in his eyes and demanded money. The victim screamed for help and the suspects fled.

    An email the night of the attack from Miles Grant (author of “The Green Miles” blog):
    My neighbor got mugged in front of our apartment tonight. The Green Girlfriend and I were watching the Red Sox game on my laptop when it happened. Fortunately our yelling scared the muggers off.…From what we heard, our neighbor ran an errand at the CVS at Pershing and Glebe, the attackers followed him up Glebe to Henderson/Quincy, then down 5th to our apartment….Fortunately he's OK and I don't think they got his wallet, but certainly makes you re-think living in an area that has apparently become a target for criminals (remember the robbery at the market across the intersection).

    It was the Hyde Park Grocery and Laundry. Click the link and scroll down to Police Notes for more on that one. --ST

    Sept. 18: Felony Hit and Run, S. Glebe Road at Arlington Boulevard. At approximately 1:40 p.m., a Volkswagon Jetta was stopped at a red light northbound on Glebe Road over Arlington Blvd when another vehicle struck the Jetta from behind. The suspect vehicle is described as possibly being a Nissan Pathfinder, either gold, beige or tan in color. The suspect vehicle fled the scene in an unknown direction. No injuries were sustained, but there was significant damage to the victim vehicle. The investigation is ongoing.

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Barrett to Practice Safety

    To prepare for an attack by someone entering a school or the release of an airborne hazard, the county schools are working with the county police to practice “lockdown,” and “shelter-in-place,” drills intended to let faculty and staff prepare for an attack. Students are included to some degree, said Lt. Pat Babcock of the Arlington County Police’s School Resource Unit.

    “I consider it less intrusive than a fire drill,” he said.

    Next week on Tuesday Oct. 2, K.W. Barrett will hold its shelter-in-place and tornado drills which are similar, said Principal Terry Bratt. The practice lockdown, which aims to protect students in the event of an intruder, or a criminal nearby, has been changed to Oct. 23.

    She said that her Tiger TV (the morning announcements) presentation will explain to the children what is happening and that, similar to practicing math or reading skills, “This is how we practice to keep ourselves safe.”

    Lt. Babcock said the police are practicing with each school individually and that no one outside the school would be able to tell that it was going on.

    “You’d be oblivious to it,” he said, even though, “it’s done during school.”
    During her PTA meeting presentation, on Sept. 11, Mrs. Bratt said the first lockdown her school faced was during the “Beltway Sniper” attacks of 2002. She has completed two a year since then. The first one is announced so that students are not surprised, and parents are not alarmed.

    “Then we do another one to make sure they’re listening well,” she said in a recent interview.

    In 2005, Washington-Lee High School was locked down for the final 90 minutes one day because a boy made violent threats to his sister in an internet chatroom. He was using a computer screen name she did not recognize, a police press release said at that time.

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    Friday, September 21, 2007

    Mini-Golf Plans Progressing

    The easement has been signed and the process to offer a “request for qualifications” has begun for the property outside the Ballston Commons Mall parking garage on N. Glebe Road at the intersection of N. Randolph Street, said Scott McPartlin, a county project manager. The space is to be managed by the county as a park, and the plans are to create a state-of-the-art miniature golf course, but “nothing is etched in stone.”

    "I am happy to state that we do, we finally got [the easement],” Mr. McPartlin said, "I don't know that it's been recorded yet, but it's been signed, which is the big deal." He said it was signed by the mall’s owners (Forest City Enterprises) at the end of August.

    The county is planning a miniature golf course for this site in front of the Ballston Commons Mall. Some Buckingham residents aren't so sure they like the idea.

    Rather than simply sending out a request for proposals for a developer to make a basic golf course, the county might go the route of a request for qualifications, in an attempt to find a company who could become a partner in the development. That partner would take on some of the financial burden while building a course that matches the urban setting around it.

    "For the type of first-class course that we want, we just don't have the funding for that,” Mr. McPartlin said. He added that the county has the money from the original site plan to put in a regular mini-golf course, but he said county staff thought that would not fit the setting.

    County staff came to the civic association meetings over the past year with the idea for the golf course and asked if the associations liked it; staff did not ask what the associations wanted, but if they liked what was offered. This has bothered some people in Buckingham, among them, Pat Hope, the president of the Buckingham Community Civic Association. That sentiment, and questions about the choice of mini-golf, was echoed by others at the BCCA meeting on Monday, Sept. 17. Mr. McPartlin does not deny it.

    "That is exactly what we did. That is the truth,” Mr. McPartlin said. “This was a unique process, different than some of our parks, to take advantage of this opportunity.”

    His office went to civic associations (that's a large pdf file) with the idea of the golf course, and asked if the associations liked it. One reason for this process was the pressure his office felt from higher in the county, he said. "We did receive clear direction [from the county board] to do something to activate this corner."

    He said that a “passive” corner, one filled primarily with trees, plants and benches would not work on that corner, with two large streets and the wall of the parking garage making up the three sides of the triangle. Professional landscape architects told him people would not make the trip to that corner to sit, he said, adding that non-use could spell a haven for rodents and loose garbage.

    He has said that county staff considered other uses—an outdoor ice rink, a climbing wall—but that the mini-golf had the longest season and was a multi-generational activity.

    He added that the Ashton Heights Civic Association (the property is part of the Ashton Heights neighborhood) loved the idea and sent a letter to the county board stating this.

    Mr. McPartlin and Pat Hope have both said that meetings are being planned for residents of the neighborhood to voice their opinions. Mr. Hope said he hopes to involve the Bluemont Civic Association as well.

    "I respect Patrick's opinion. Patrick an I have been in communication....I will be attending a BCCA meeting in the near future, most likely this fall, to learn more about the public space needs of the Buckingham community. All I can really say is I respect his opinion." Mr. McPartlin paused for a few moments. "Any concern they have is valid to me." He said again that nothing is etched in stone.
    Related story information: Request for Information.

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    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    HeraldTrib Today 9-19-07

    Is anyone else annoyed that Mark Warner is running for Senate? Nothing ruins his chances for the presidency more than becoming the junior Senator from Virginia. I think he’d make a great president, as I’ve written before (hit the link and scroll down to “Just Like the Rest of Us”), and I think spending time collecting votes in the Senate kills that.

    When the Jim Webb, George Allen fight was hottest, Allen’s own campaign shared the number of votes that he and John Warner shared in the Senate. It was somewhere around 1,500 votes. He’d voted 1,500 times in one term in the Senate! Give those votes over to the other side to sort through and all kinds of statistical, but bad-sounding, nonsense comes out (“He voted 312 times to raise taxes!” Or “He voted to kill your children!”).

    That’s why it’s so hard for Senators to win the White House; in one term they have more history than they care to share.

    A little closer to home, Suzi Smith reported at the Buckingham Community Civic Association meeting that this line in the road is wonderful. It’s a “stop line” on N. Carlin Springs Road in front of the Carlin apartments. Traffic stopping at the intersection of N. Carlin and N. Glebe Road historically often blocks the driveway to the Carlin making it difficult or impossible for Carlin drivers to get out and dangerous for pedestrians in that area.

    She reported that people stop for the line, and leave room, often more room than necessary. Woohoo! (And Kudos to the county staff who got that done (finally?—all children are prodigal and always welcome home.))

    I can’t help but come back to my diatribe of the summer—the one says LINES ON THE ROAD DO MATTER, at least when it’s clear what the line means. Oh, don’t get me started.

    Today’s Headlines:

  • Final Arts Al Fresco at Lubber Run this Weekend
  • Police Notes for Buckingham
  • Do 40 Tickets Do Good? Police wrote many tickets in July, but is there a long-term benefit?
  • BCCA to Litterbugs: You Have Two Days The civic association voted to ask the county board to change the regulations regarding trash.

  • Headlines since last Wednesday:

  • More Bad News about Ofr. Florio ACPD arrested him for assualt.
  • Barrett has 32 More Students than Expected
  • PTA Says: Get Involved
  • Buckingham Renters Get Help from Board--$1.5 million to defray expenses.
  • Fun at the ANDC Meeting (Impeach, Seize Property, etc.)

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  • This Weekend at Lubber Run

    The Final Arts Al Fresco Event of the Season

    Sunday Sept. 23:
    12-4 p.m. Speedy Tolliver Fiddle Contest
    4-6 p.m. Fergusson/Tejada “Walkabout” starting from the Lubber Run Amphitheatre

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    Police Notes for Buckingham

    Sept. 14: Robbery, 4300 block of N. Henderson Rd. At approximately 11:43 p.m., three men were drinking in the lobby of an apartment building when a group of five other men approached and demanded their beer. The victims refused and were physically assaulted by the five suspects. The suspects then took the beer. Police officers responded but the suspects fled on foot and were not apprehended.

    Sept. 14: Peeping Tom, 4300 block of N. 2nd Rd. At approximately 9:37 p.m., a woman saw a man peering into the bathroom window of her residence. She screamed and the suspect fled. He is described as white male in his early 20s, with dark brown hair.

    Sept. 13: Burglary, 4300 block N. Carlin Springs Rd. Between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., someone entered a residence by unknown means and took a change purse.

    Sept. 12: Indecent Exposure, unit block (under number 100) of S. Glebe Rd. At approximately 2:45 p.m., the female victim was driving northbound on S. Glebe Road approaching Arlington Boulevard. When she stopped for traffic, a man pulled his vehicle up next to hers and exposed himself. The victim was able to observe the tag number on the suspect’s vehicle and the investigation is ongoing.

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    Do 40 Tickets Do Good?

    40 tickets. As a special detail of Arlington County traffic enforcement, police officers issued 40 citations at the corner of N. Glebe Road and N. Carlin Springs Drive over 30 days, starting in mid-July. The police spent extra time at that intersection citing drivers for speed, illegal U-turns and other traffic or vehicle offenses.

    "Usually they do like a one hour block” during morning and evening rush-hours, said Lt. William Griffith, of the police Special Operations Section. The special detail grew from citizen meetings with county staff about pedestrian safety at that intersection.

    Certainly police presence slows drivers down, but when do the drivers speed up again?

    “As soon as they don’t see [the police],” said John Townsend, of AAA MidAtlantic, and then he chuckled a little. With selective enforcement of speed, “the benefit is short-term.”

    He cited a couple traffic studies to support his claim. One, written by researchers at the University of Maryland’s medical school earlier this year, reported that citations do not stop people from continuing to speed.

    “Our findings indicate that a single speeding citation has limited effects on changing drivers’ likelihood of receiving subsequent speeding citations....this study suggests that speeding citations have inadequate deterrent effects in the context of the current law enforcement system,” the report stated. "Drivers who received a speeding citation during May 2002 had almost twice the risk of receiving a speeding citation during the follow-up period [one year] than drivers who did not receive a speeding citation during that month.”

    The other, written by medical researchers in Ottawa Canada in 2003, found that speeding tickets lower the mortality rate for drivers significantly, in the first month or two after the ticket is given, but the benefit is gone after about three months.

    Still, the Maryland study seemed to point to the idea that people slow down if they fear the police are nearby. The report stated, “The severity of the punishment does not seem to be the deterring factor to slow speeders; the deterrent seems to be whether the driver thinks he or she will be caught at all.”

    "We try to go back and spot check as well,” said Lt. Griffith. "How often we go back, I don't know."

    “The problem with the county is that we get flooded with requests" to have the motor unit come out on a special detail, especially for speed traps, he said. The officers in the motor unit, however, tend to go back to places, such as the intersection of Glebe and Carlin Springs, if they think they can “be seen, make a difference,” he said.

    "They enjoy writing tickets," he said, laughing.

    [I don't intend to imply that the studies mentioned are the last word on this. The link to the Stanford study only references a press release since the only copy I could find of the full study was in my college’s library database. For readers here to see that copy, I would have to give all of you my login name and password. The college frowns on that. –ST.]

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    BCCA to Litterbugs: You Have Two Days

    Tired of seeing trash heaped over the dumpsters in Buckingham? So is the Buckingham Community Civic Association. But what to do? It turns out the code that forces a land owner to keep the trash in the dumpster really has no teeth.

    A property owner, slapped with a warning from the Arlington County Code Enforcement Office, has 10 business days to clear away trash. Well, if the property is an apartment complex, most likely the trash will be cleared away within the next week. The owner or management never faces a fine, only a warning, so that owner can keep mounding then clearing the trash, week after week.

    This became apparent during a presentation by Marlene Terreros-Oronao, a historic preservation code inspector, at the BCCA meeting Monday night, Sept. 17.

    Said Pat Hope, the BCCA president, “Essentially, there’s no code enforcement in code enforcement…I know Code Enforcement contacts them [the offending property owners]…They thumb their noses at them, at us.”

    Ms. Terreros-Oronao said if the BCCA wants the code to have teeth, it needs to be brought into line with other codes that only allow two days for a property owner to fix infractions.

    “I would like this [code] to be changed from 10 to two,” Ms. Terreros-Oronao said. This will force property owners to realize there is a recurrent problem that needs a better fix than weekly removal, people at the meeting said.

    Ms. Terreros-Oronao said without any teeth in that code, she relies more on education, telling property owners what they should be doing.

    “Once I educate the person who’s doing it, I don’t have a problem,” she said.

    So, at the meeting’s end, the BCCA voted to ask the county board to change the law to force litterbug property owners to clean-up in two business days or face the $100 fine. The next step, Mr. Hope said, is to bring this to the Civic Federation to see if other neighborhoods wish to add their voices.

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    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    More Bad News about Ofr. Florio

    Arlington Police arrest officer for assault and sexual battery.
    Officer is on administrative leave without pay.

    [I'm printing the Arlington County Police Department press release in its entirety. However, I added the hot link.--ST]

    ARLINGTON, Va. - Detectives with the Arlington Police Department have arrested an Arlington County police officer on charges that he assaulted two female officers. Michele Florio, 28, of Arlington, is charged with two counts of assault and battery and one count of sexual battery. The alleged offenses took place while the officers were on duty.

    Detectives obtained warrants and arrested Officer Florio on Friday, September 7. He has since been released on $2,500 bond. In addition, he had been relieved of duty and is on administrative leave without pay pending an internal investigation.

    Detectives are investigating whether Officer Florio has had any inappropriate contact with any other individuals. Anyone with any information that may be relevant to this investigation is asked to call Detective Dan Borrelli at 703-228-4052, or Detective Greg Sloan at 703-228-4198.

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    Barrett 32 Students Over Projections

    K.W. Barrett Elementary School is 32 students over its projected enrollment (or “membership” as Arlington Public Schools calls it), according to numbers released by APS last week. That’s good news according to Principal Theresa “Terry” Bratt as it points to the school’s popularity and success. She reported slightly different, unofficial, numbers at the PTA meeting on Sept. 11.

    “This first month, or so, there will be a little flux. We’ve been pretty much at the same numbers. We’re right around 440,” she said in a recent interview.

    Of the 95 kindergarteners—the largest class in “maybe 10 years”—five or six were the children of various teachers, 60 were from within Barrett’s boundary, 20 were within the Barrett “cluster” (the group of seven other schools that Barrett also serves), and 15 students came from Barcroft Elementary School, (a school which operates year-round), Mrs. Bratt reported.

    The numbers are the “seventh-day-count” for the school. APS counts students on the first and seventh days of the school year, as well as the last day of September, which will represent the official number for the school year. Barrett enrolled 384 students last year. “As you can see, we’re considerably more than last year,” Mrs. Bratt said.

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    Friday, September 14, 2007

    PTA Says "Get Involved"

    Back-to-School Night, Sept. 19: No Kids

    Plenty to do if you’re looking to get active in the K.W. Barrett Parent Teacher Association; that theme pervaded the PTA meeting on Tuesday Sept. 11.

    The PTA leaders ran through the basics of fundraising (gift-wrap sales, link your grocery-shopping card to Barrett, etc.) They spoke of curricular programs like “Book Buddies” that links adult tutors to sit and read with a child for an hour twice per week, and the “Robust Vocabulary” program that aims to bring stronger vocabulary words to the students (look to homework for a new word every week).

    The best way to stay up with, and contact, the PTA if you’re interested, is to hit the PTA website, which is part of Barrett school’s website. PTA leaders also suggested signing-up for the “APS School Talk,” an email service the school system provides—general news as well as early closing announcements and other information is provided by this service. The service allows applicants to indicate which schools they would like the information about.

    A short, tense portion of the meeting, Monday, was the announcement that “Back to School Night”, Sept. 19, was not going to have child care provided. A Spanish-speaking woman said, through the interpreter, that not everyone has family or friends who can watch children at that time. Or it would mean that one parent would have to stay home while the other attended the meeting.

    Principal Theresa “Terry” Bratt said that she understood the difficulty for parents, “but it’s been difficult for teachers to give their presentations as well” with children present. She added that the situation in the past was dangerous for the children, unattended in the school.

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    Cty. Board OKs Help for Buckingham Renters

    I’m sorry I missed this both at the board meeting (#28), and (almost) this story in the Washington Post’s Alexandria/Arlington weekly section.

    Anyway, the story talks about the $1.5 million allocated by the county board on Saturday to help families displaced by all the re-construction of Buckingham Village 1. People will be moving out very soon. I’ll have more. (August County Staff Report, September County Staff Report.)

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    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ANDC Meeting…

    …or near the end of it.

    Gene Betit, self-described as retired from military intelligence, and now a social justice outreach minister with Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Church (according to his business card), called for the impeachment of both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at the latest Arlington New Directions Coalition meeting. This was an odd request for a group primarily concerned with affordable housing, economic fairness and diversity in the county, and other quality of life issues for people of modest means. Although some at the table may have agreed with Mr. Betit, the general consensus was that the ANDC generally did not involve itself with impeaching the president.

    Then John Reeder, of the Arlington Green Party, made a pitch for the ANDC to support the creation of an Arlington Housing Authority. Mr. Reeder passed around a handout outlining the top 10 reasons for creation of the Housing Authority while he explained that a housing authority would give the county more power to conserve affordable housing by buying and selling property. It would even allow the county to “condemn and take housing.” That raised eyebrows in the room.

    Mr. Reeder with the Green Party (and their candidate for county board, Josh Ruebner) has gotten the AHA’s creation onto the Nov. 8, 2008, ballot. They were trying for Nov. 6, 2007, but the county board meeting where the referendum was to be considered for the ballot came a day after the deadline for adding it. (Those decisions are off to court.) The last time it came to a vote was 1982.

    My take: Why can’t a group that has the signatures (on the correct form, please) advance a referendum that they create directly to the Circuit Court? It seems that the step of giving it first to the county board, where a board could delay action (I’m not saying that happened here) or in other ways interfere, and then moving it to the court gives power to officialdom when the act of creating a referendum is a grassroots thing. I don’t want to have us govern like California with everything on ballot initiatives, but it would seem to me removing the middle man might help. From what I understand, the state fears the referenda of the people. And John, I wouldn't use the "condemn and take" line too much in the stump speeches.

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    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Police Notes for Buckingham

    Sept. 9: Malicious Wounding, 4200 block of N. 2nd Rd. At approximately 11:50 a.m., a man got into an argument with a woman known to him. When the man tried to leave the apartment, the woman brandished a knife then stabbed the man once in the upper body. The victim was treated by medics at the scene for his injury. Leasha Childs, 25, of Arlington, was arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding. After being treated at a local hospital for a laceration to the hand, Childs was taken to the Arlington County Detention Facility and held without bond.

    Sept. 9: Malicious Wounding, 4300 block of N. Henderson Rd. At approximately 4:20 p.m., a woman walking down the street was attacked by a man known to her who was wielding a sharp instrument. The victim fled and was later transported to a local hospital with severe lacerations to the upper body. Officers located the suspect at Ballston Commons Mall and took him into custody without incident. The suspect was suffering from apparently self-inflicted lacerations to the upper body when he was found and he was also transported to a local hospital for treatment. A warrant is on file charging German Vidal Mercado-Pineda, 33, of Arlington, with Malicious Wounding and will be served upon his release from the hospital.

    Police closed N. Henderson Road between N. George Mason Drive and N. 4th Road, investigating the scene of Sunday's crime. (Click the photo to enlarge it.)

    Sept. 6: Sexual Battery, Henderson Road at N. Thomas Street. At about 5:10 p.m., a 17-year-old female was standing on the street at the intersection of N. Thomas Street and N. Henderson Road when a man approached her and grabbed her in a sexual manner. The suspect fled the scene on foot, and was located by the victim a short time later by the Glebe Market. Arturo Castro, 28, of Arlington, was charged with sexual assault and battery and was held on a $3500 secured bond.

    Sept. 6: Felony Hit and Run, 600 block N. Glebe Rd. At about 7:55 p.m. a Nissan Maxima, a Mazda 626 and a Mercury Grand Marquis were northbound in the 600 block of N. Glebe Rd. The vehicles were stopped at a red light in the left lane. A second Mercury Grand Marquis was northbound in the same lane. It struck the rear of the Nissan, causing a chain reaction accident, wherein the Nissan struck the other two stopped vehicles. The driver of the suspect Mercury fled on foot northbound on Glebe Road. Two drivers of the victim vehicles sustained minor injuries.

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    Wishing Det. Steve Gomez Bon Voyage!

    Detective Gomez has been my contact in the police department’s media office for the year I’ve been writing this blog. He has been honest and accessible during that time, and tells me he is heading back to the midnight shift for crime scene processing. Do we hear a TV spinoff? “CSP: Arlington" (With Det. Steve Gomez as Det. Steve Gomez.) I like the sound of that.

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    Market-Rate Landlords Have Mission and Independence

    Landlords who offer market-rate, yet “affordable,” rental units in Arlington do so to maintain control of their property and to fill a sense of mission, said Lisa Fowler, PhD, at an Arlington New Directions Coalition meeting, Monday Sept. 10.

    Dr. Fowler’s report highlighted interviews conducted with seven landlords who rent some or all of their units at rates affordable to people with incomes that fall between 60 and 80 percent of Area Median Income.

    She produced the report for the Alliance for Housing Solutions of Arlington and summarized it at the ANDC meeting. (Click this link for the report, but the document that pops up at the AHS web site only says that it will be posted Sept. 8.)

    “There is a sense of mission to some of these owners,” she said. They see their business mission to offer rental units, but also to provide a community service.

    However, “Control over their property was of paramount importance,” she added. These property owners do not want to take on the work, and potential hassles, of designating their units affordable, which might require government oversight.

    The problem is that the market-rate rents can rise above the affordable limits and many of the buildings are very old, and the units are small, with little storage. The affordable units often are only one- or two-bedroom units, she said.

    The owners reported that often the people who rent the affordable units are not in need of the assistance, but might just be trying to save rent, she said. Buckingham Villages and the Gates of Ballston, before the major changes of recent months and years, were considered market-rate affordable units.)

    Many of the buildings that Dr. Fowler studied are very old, and though the owners said they can maintain operations of the buildings, the buildings themselves are often in need of major renovations, she said. Also, many of the owners who have the sense of mission are aging and are looking to children or others to take over operations, and the children might not have the same attitude toward mission, she said.

    Property tax abatement, density transfers that would help the owners of multiple buildings, the “right of first refusal” for the county to buy the buildings, and other possible solutions were raised and discussed around the table of nearly 20 people. All the ideas met with concerns.

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    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Lubber Run Mosquitoes Test Positive for West Nile Virus

    Some mosquitoes in Lubber Run Park and many other locations in Arlington are infected with West Nile Virus, the county reported last week and earlier. Mosquitoes at McCoy, Fort Scott and Marcey Road parks and near Walter Reed Community Center were found infected last week. Infected mosquitoes have been found in areas all over the county, according to press releases.

    Not all mosquitoes can become infected with the virus. Only infected mosquitoes can infect birds, horses and humans, according to various sources. The vast majority of people infected show few, if any, of the symptoms which can include fever or other illness, spinal meningitis (a swelling of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), or encephalitis (a swelling of the brain).

    The county reported Arlington’s first human case of West Nile Virus infection for the year on Aug. 31. The Lyon Park resident is over 50 years old, the county press release said.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of Sept. 4, there were four fatalities due to West Nile Virus in the United States. Just over 600 people became ill with fever or other sickness. 280 have gotten encephalitis or meningitis.

    According to the CDC web site there was only one report of West Nile encephalitis or meningitis in all of Virginia and no fevers or other illness from West Nile, but a county press release reported four cases for the state so far this year.

    By comparison, tens of thousands of people die every year from the flu and its complications.

    Mosquitos need as little as a quarter cup of still water (preferably a little dirty) in which to reproduce, and it takes days for the eggs to hatch larvae and then metamorph into the flying insects, experts say. Also, they cannot fly very far, so clearing out even the smallest puddles around the house and cleaning bird baths can help keep the mosquito population down.

    According to the county, you can reduce your exposure to mosquitoes by paying particular attention to the following:

  • Make sure window and door screens in your home are functional and in place.
  • Use insect repellent products registered with the Environmental Protection Agency such as products containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus. When using a product containing DEET, no more than 50 percent DEET should be used for adults and less than 30 percent should be used for children. Follow instructions when using insect repellents.

    You can reduce the threat of mosquito breeding by eliminating standing water where mosquitoes like to lay their eggs:

  • Remove all artificial breeding sources such as cans, bottles, plastic containers and old tires from your yard.
  • Replace the water in birdbaths and potted plant trays at least once a week.
  • Turn over wading pools, small boats, wheelbarrows, buckets and toys so they don’t hold water.
  • Shake out the tarps that cover grills, firewood, boats, swimming pools and yard equipment at least once a week.
  • Keep garbage cans and recycling containers closed.
  • Drain or treat unused swimming pools.
  • Keep rain gutters clean to prevent them from holding standing water.

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  • Friday, September 07, 2007

    Barrett Makes "Adequate Yearly Progress"

    If you have not heard the good news about K.W. Barrett elementary school: it passed the Virginia Standards of Learning exams, and thereby made Adequate Yearly Progress under the federal “No Child Left Behind” law. This is the third year in a row for the school.

    “I have to say I was really pleased,” Principal Theresa “Terry” Bratt said during a telephone interview. “The school system tells me we’ve done really well.”

    She said, however, that she still has the same sort of trepidation as she did in May when the students took the tests. In May 2005 and 2006, English as a Second Language students took the Stanford English Language Proficiency Test to test their reading ability. Last year, the Department of Education determined the Stanford test was not similar enough to the commonwealth’s SOL reading test that all the other students took. Virginia's test has content about the state that the Standford test lacked.

    Therefore, schools were forced to use the grade-level reading test for all children who had lived in the United States for at least a year.

    "I would never say we're out of the woods as far as giving a grade level test to children who speak English as a second language,” she said. She said she expects ESL fifth-graders who have been at Barrett since Kindergarten to do well on the exams, but newly arrived children will always have troubles.

    Understanding the results of the testing is actually quite complicated as schools must reach target passing rates in as many as 29 different subsets of students (students grouped as English as a Second Language speakers, or by different races, or by different income levels at home, for example).

    The target passing rate was 73 percent in reading and 71 percent in Math. Barrett met all 17 targets in its different subsets. However, low income students at Campbell Elementary missed the reading assessment (one of Campbell’s 11 targets) and the school failed to make AYP. The targets will rise to 77 and 75 percent for reading and math next May.

    Mrs. Bratt said the reading scores in one subset in one grade missed the reading target, but a three-year average was applied, so the target was reached. It gets complicated, and the official report and double-checked numbers have not yet come down from the state.

    Students in schools that do not make AYP can be bused for free to other schools; however, once the failing school makes AYP, the students no longer can rely on free bus service, which can be disruptive.

    In other good news for the school, Mrs. Bratt reported, "We were projected to have 405 children, and I believe we have 440 children." She likes being so popular among the county’s school choices. Barrett is part of a pod of eight schools. Parents inside the boundaries of any of those schools can choose to send their children to Barrett.

    But do they have room for all the unexpected kids? "We're making room," Mrs. Bratt said. "Teachers are always flexible."

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007

    HeraldTrib Today, Sept. 5 2007

    Welcome back to the regular year. At least for me as a professor and having kids in school, the real year starts now. Even that’s odd for me as I’ll be on sabbatical (it’s an official chance to rest and study) for this school year.

    But we did get both kids off to K.W. Barrett Elementary School yesterday with all the hoopla that entails. For my daughter it was a new school (she went to F.S. Key School during kindergarten and first grade), but she slipped into the new school as though it were grandma’s house. My son started kindergarten, and though he cried a bit at 8:25 a.m., he was in good spirits when I retrieved him yesterday afternoon.

    One friend of ours said that her boy, a kindergartener, had a really great day, “But I’m also sorry to tell you,” he said to his mom, “it’s also my last day of school.” It was just too long!

    NBC4 television was on hand to cover first-day events around the region. In this photo, Tracee Wilkins, was recording teasers for the news show, something akin to: “It’s the first day of school and we’ll have full coverage at 5:00.” She said they’d already hit Washington-Lee High School and were out to Fairfax County soon enough.

    The police came to N. George Mason Drive to nab afternoon speeders who did not pay attention to the flashing “School Zone” signs. This officer ticketed at least two people during the 10 minutes that I was on the grounds.

    Make sure you check out all the stories from this week and late last week on the blog:

  • Buckingham Commons Rising from the Dirt
  • Police Notes for Buckingham
  • Board Candidate Ruebner to Meet-n-Greet in BuckinghamSept. 30 (mark your calendars). This is the first of what I hope will be a few more meet-n-greets. We’ll see what happens.
  • My Blasé Feelings at Bham Fest generated a couple good comments, so make sure you swing back to the story even if you already read it. Maybe I was just too tired to be out. Here's my post from last year. (It was one of my first posts, so forgive the look of the thing, please.)

  • Buckingham Commons Townhomes

    You may have seen the townhomes being erected at the intersection of N. George Mason Drive and N. Henderson Road as part of the Buckingham Commons development.

    “Everything is fine” with the four storey townhomes which should reach completion in February or March, said Micheline Castan-Smith, the project manager with Paradigm Companies, which is developing the property. “It’ll look like we’re zooming,” she said, and then it will look slow as the interior and finish work is completed.

    Workers constructed sections of roofs Tuesday morning. The townhomes are set to open in February or March.

    She said they have a couple of contracts on the homes, despite the craziness in the national housing market.

    “Sales have been OK. I mean the market is the market,” she said, “The pricing is still the same.”

    Sixty-nine townhomes are planned for the development which includes the parcel along N. George Mason Drive at N. Henderson Road as well as the parcel on N. Thomas Street between N. 4th Street and N. Henderson Road.

    This area is called “Buckingham Village 2” and is being developed “by right” meaning Paradigm can develop the property the way it wishes, so long they stay within current zoning regulations and other laws.

    This portion of the redevelopment of the Buckingham Villages was never a serious part of the negotiations between the county and Paradigm. Those negotiations lead to a memorandum of understanding between the county and Paradigm followed by a plan to raze and redevelop Buckingham Village 1 (along the west side of N. George Mason Drive), and retain and renovate Village 3 (along N. Pershing Drive between N. George Mason Drive and N. Thomas Street). The George Mason Apartments, located between the razed portions of Village 2, are not owned or managed by Paradigm.

    Ms. Castan-Smith said, “We’re going to complete [townhomes that run along] George Mason and then work around to Thomas.” She said sales along N. George Mason probably will not affect development of the parcel along N. Thomas Street.

    Police Notes for Buckingham

    Aug. 29: Felony Hit and Run, N. Glebe Road at the intersection with N. Henderson Road. At approximately 5:45 p.m., a Lincoln Continental made a right turn on red from eastbound N. Henderson Road onto southbound N. Glebe Road. The Continental struck a Honda Accord which was traveling southbound on N. Glebe. The driver of the Accord was injured and the Continental immediately fled the scene.

    Officers located the Continental and stopped it on the ramp from westbound Arlington Boulevard to N. George Mason Drive. Petitions are pending for the 17-year-old male suspect, who was released into the custody of his parents.

    People crowd around the struck Honda Accord (far left) after a hit-and-run accident injured the driver Aug. 29. (Miles Grant Photo)

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    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    Josh Ruebner to “Meet-n-Greet” In Buckingham

    County Board candidate, Josh Ruebner (Green Party), will speak to Buckinghamsters at a community forum hosted by the Buckingham Herald Trib on Sunday Sept. 30, 2 to 4 p.m. Mr. Ruebner plans to bring a Spanish-language interpreter with him, so Spanish speakers are encouraged to attend.

    The forum will be held at the Arlington Oaks Community Center, 4490 N. Pershing Dr. (at the corner of N. Pershing and N. 2nd Street, across N. Pershing from Culpepper Gardens). Parking is limited to on-street, so walk if you can.

    The general election is Tuesday Nov. 6, with 13 seats from school board to Virginia Senate up for grabs.

    Mr. Ruebner made a splash in local politics last year when he won five percent of the county vote against Democrat Chris Zimmerman, who won the three-way board race in a landslide against Mr. Ruebner and Mike McMenamin, the Republican candidate. (Mr. McMenamin is running again this year, and we’re hoping to find a date for his Meet-n-Greet. The three other board candidates have been contacted.)

    Mr. Ruebner’s platform promotes affordable housing and critiques overdevelopment and gentrification in the county, campaign materials say. His web site mentions his support of racial and economic diversity. He stands against the use of trolley cars on Columbia Pike (near where he lives) as a “boondoggle” for businesses and a county board that wants to gentrify that South Arlington neighborhood, his web site says.

    Food and beverages will be served--watch this space and other places for more about this.

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