Wednesday, April 29, 2009

HeraldTrib Today April 29, 2009

If I’m gone, I’ll be back…

Stupid Google. I love them because they give me tons of free software that I use daily (blopspot is owned by Google; the maps I use for the police reports are owned by Google; my gmail account is owned by Google; when my son comes of age, he…kidding), and all I have to do for it is ignore the advertisements that appear just about everywhere on their products.

But about a week ago, I got a message that said my blog was flagged as possible spam because of the incredible number of links to other pages on my site (apparently robot computers set up blogs that all link to the same address and that’s what the HeraldTrib looked like to them; I did not know there was such a thing as a spam blog).

They threatened to delete the blog if I did not respond within three weeks (that leaves about two weeks from now, if you’re not keeping up).

I clicked all the links that tell their robot computer that I actually am a human running a rather popular blog and would they please not shut me down. Their computer admitted that if I was clicking, most likely I was human, so not to worry.

Yet, that got me thinking: if software can be written to create spam-blogs willy-nilly, couldn’t a programmer make software that would know to click the links as a human would?

That leaves me wondering if I have done enough to save the blog. I’ll guess we’ll know in a fortnight. If it does get obliterated, I’ll pop up again elsewhere, and at that point will work to reinstate (or at least recover the links to stories) the HeraldTrib.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Debate story getting some traffic and comments…

I wrote my take on the debate hosted by the Arlington County Democratic Committee in the primary run for the House of Delegates’ 47th District. The five Democrats running for their party’s nomination to replace the retiring Al Eisenberg, covered a number of topics rather civilly (so much for my “Fighting 47th” moniker). I wrote that no one really won the debate, but I thought Adam Parkhomenko (still my First Amendment hero), lost.

That, of course, got people reading, and drew some to comment. Make sure you check it out.

The Green Party has already selected their nominee: Josh Ruebner. The Republicans have not yet fielded a candidate, and my (admittedly limited) contacts say it’s unlikely that they will. Whenever I write something like that, however, I remind myself that reporters do a much better job when they tell people what happened rather that what will happen.

Outdoor performance space a rumor…

A story in the neighborhood that the greenspace outside the Ballston Commons Mall parking garage would become a performance or presentation space of some kind for use by the mall or the Capitals is just a rumor according to Scott McPartlin, a county planner working on that space.

Arlington County is still working on potential ideas for the site which was most recently set to be a mini-golf course. Ideas that “activate” that space and that are “revenue neutral” are forthcoming, Mr. McPartlin told me yesterday.

The Week’s Headlines…
As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Sneak Peek at the Madison of Ballston Station (This is the big, new, four-storey building on N. Pershing Drive; formerly Buckingham Village 1).
  • Bethel Church to "Change the World" (starting with Buckingham).
  • Democrat House of Delegates Debate (This is the ACDC debate; you'll want to read this).
  • Police Notes April 10 to 23 (Graffiti, Theft and Police Impersonation).
  • Arlington Annex with Vic Socotra: Step Back in Time to the Ball-Sellers House. (Vic is back with his second installment. Up next: pools and Nazis! Let me know what you think.)
  • Hope Holds Rally at the Gates Center (About 50 Latinos came to support Buckinghamster Patrick Hope in his bid for the House of Delegates. Other candidates: please let me know if you're holding a public event in or near Buckingham. I'll do my best to get there. --ST
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    Monday, April 27, 2009

    Hope Holds Rally at Gates Center

    Mario Flores was one of four speakers at a "Latinos for Hope" rally at the Gates of Ballston Community Center, Friday. They spoke on behalf of Patrick Hope, a ten-year Buckingham resident who is running for the Virginia House of Delegates' 47th district. The primary is June 9.

    About 40 people came out Friday night to a campaign rally for Patrick Hope in his run to succeed Al Eisenberg in the Virginia House of Delegates. Mr. Hope is one of five Democrats racing to a June 9 primary to determine the party's nominee.

    Patrick Hope "helps us with issues before the Arlington County Board, the Arlington Police Department," said Eva Nogales in a prepared statement.

    Rosa Fuentes reminded the crowd that Mr. Hope has been the Lubber Run Community Center's Santa Claus, buying many of the presents and dressing up for the annual party over the past six years.

    The event, with food and drinks, was held at the Gates of Ballston Community Center, 4108 N. 4th Road.

    Other candidates: if you hold a public event in Buckingham, or nearby, please let me know. I'll make every effort to be there for coverage. Email me: --ST

    Republicans have yet to field a candidate.

    Green Party is running Josh Ruebner.

    Democrats will fight for their party's nomination, chosen by primary vote on June 9.

    The five Democratic candidates in the race include:

    Miles Grant; Patrick Hope; Alan Howze; Adam Parkhomenko; Andreas Tobar.

    Full Disclosure: I have known Pat Hope for years and consider him a friend.

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    Sunday, April 26, 2009

    Step Back in Time to the Ball-Sellers Place

    Arlington Annex with Vic Socotra

    It is not right that you have to do it by car, but that is the only good choice to get across the big road, these days. You can’t even turn left most places on Arlington Blvd. without having some busy commuter drive up your tailpipe. If you were to walk it, as the crow flies from Buckingham, I would allow about ten or fifteen minutes and a couple hundred years. No problem, really, and, if you let yourself, you might just imagine the smell of frying salt pork from an old farm stove for much of the distance.

    When the Colonists began to settle this part of Virginia, they did not look east and west. They looked up from the big brown Potomac, and to the valleys carved by the water coming down the fall line. Four Mile Run is one of the more prominent valleys near Buckingham, and that is how settlers would have come up the trail from Alexandria.

    In the mid 18th century, yeoman farmer John Ball built a one-room log cabin in what was the adjoining farm to the west, on the other side of the junction of Lubber and Four Mile runs.

    The Ball Sellers campus, 5620 S. 3rd St. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    He lived in the Colony of Virginia, in British North America. The land that he settled belonged to Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron. That in itself is a story, since upon succeeding to his title and to the family’s Northern Neck Proprietary land grant, he became Lord of all the land from the Tidewater to the headwaters of the Rappahannock and Potomac Rivers.

    He lived out in the Shenandoah Valley until his death at the ripe old age of 92. He heard about the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown.

    His Lordship lived much better than John Ball, though everyone likes to fix things up. Ball later added a lean-to and covered the structure with clapboard. I was astonished to find that the rude structure survives today. The cabin is a rare example of how people lived here in simpler times, and it is the oldest house in Arlington.

    Ball obtained a 166-acre land grant along Four Mile Run from Lord Fairfax in 1742. He then set about clearing the land, and building the cabin from the hewn logs. He notched them and stacked them and chinked the cracks with mud plaster. If you walk over to see it, you can see the original logs with the daubing, as well as the wide plank floors. The rare oak clapboard roof is among the few board roofs preserved in the nation.

    Inside the Ball Sellers house as it may have looked hundreds of years ago (with a modern convenience or two in the adjoining room). (Click to enlarge the image.)

    John, his wife Elizabeth, and their five daughters lived in this little house above Four Mile Run. The rushing water provided free power for a mill, the grindstones of which are still on the property. They raised wheat and corn and provided milling services for their neighbors.

    John Ball died in 1766, the year of the Declaratory Act passed in London. Through it, Parliament asserted the right to make laws for the colonies in all matters, including the settlement of estates and the sale of land. That was going to mean trouble, sooner or later.

    When Ball’s meager estate was settled, a tailor named William Carlin bought the spread. His clients included notables George Washington and George Mason, and his hands would have measured the inseams of the Founding Fathers. Three generations of the Carlin family owned the property for the next century, through the Revolution and the occupation by the Union Army in the Civil War.

    The Yankee army chewed through the structures of what was then bucolic Alexandria County, like locusts, for firewood and shelter, but the cabin survived. The third generation of the Carlins, brother and sister Andrew and Anne, ran a dairy farm and built the 1880 house that adjoins the Ball cabin in a neat little campus. The wisteria that grows behind the house is theirs.

    This was the placid heart of old Arlington. Cows and cash crops, and a lot of quiet. If it had not been for the great paroxysm of the Yankee occupation, you could say that nothing much happened here at all.

    When the Carlins sold the property in 1887, the land was subdivided into a community known today as Glencarlyn. It is the oldest subdivision in Arlington. It is composed of modest homes designed to accommodate modest people. They shoulder one another closely on streets narrower than is the custom now, though the grid is laid over the old farm that hugs the edge of the valley.

    Marian Rhinehart Sellers was the last private owner of the house. She gave the house to the Arlington Historical Society in 1975. It is open for viewing most weekends, if you care to see it.

    The house is located at what we call 5620 S. 3rd St., though it once was the center of a little universe. If you look it up on Google Earth, you can see exactly where the boundaries of the farm once were, just as Lord Fairfax would have known them.

    We have poured a lot of concrete since then, and now channel our automobiles in assertive straight lines across the valleys, east and west. But at the Ball-Sellers place, the earth abides.

    Vic is a retired spook who has an abiding interest in the people and places of Arlington. Originally from Michigan, he lives in the Buckingham neighborhood and works in Ballston.

    Vic is a retired spook who has an abiding interest in the people and places of Arlington. Originally from Michigan, he lives in the Buckingham neighborhood and works in Ballston. Photos and story Copyright 2009 Vic Socotra.

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    Friday, April 24, 2009

    Police Notes April 10 to 23

    Graffiti on the north side of the Eastern Carryout restaurant.

    Graffiti not gang-related, police say...

    Some new graffiti on a couple walls and signs has been noticed by at least a handful of people in the neighborhood, but police are neither seeing a rise in gang related activity nor in graffiti in Buckingham, the police say.

    “Some of it [graffiti in Buckingham] has been on there longer than usual,” said Det. R. Ross in the gang unit (many county police officers do not provide a first name). But that is because property owners and renters sometimes get tired of dealing with it. It is the responsibility of the landlord to take care of it, though they can also make arrangements for a tenant to do so.

    If a wall gets hit time and again, after awhile, “Some of the restaurant owners just don’t care,” he said. Arlington County removes graffiti on public places—street signs and sidewalks, for instance.

    The Economy is the culprit...

    The county’s crime rate rose about 14 percent in 2008 as compared to 2007, with thefts of electronic gadgets from cars leading the way. Shoplifting is over 50 percent higher.

    In a statement from the department, Police Chief M. Douglas Scott said, “The economic downturn is certainly a factor in the jump in property crimes in our community.”

    Det. Crystal Nosal in the Arlington Police Department said much of the time the cars that are hit are unlocked, often in neighborhoods where people feel safe.

    “Literally, [thieves] will go from car to car to car. As you can see on some of these crime reports, they can hit six or seven unlocked cars in a row, because people leave them unlocked,” she recently wrote in an email.

    Call police if you see this man...

    Connie Freeman of the Buckingham Community Outreach Center said that a man acting as a federal agent is still forcing men on the Buckingham Shopping corner to hand over wallets, and the robbed men are not reporting the activity to the police for fear of their immigration status and other factors. People have told her that he is a black man under 6 feet tall wearing a DEA T-shirt. Call the non-emergency number if you see him: 703-558-2222.
    Click here for the orginal police press release.

    Crime Reports...

    These notes are compiled from Arlington County Police Department crime reports. They cover the reports from the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhoods. --ST

    April 9: Larceny from Auto (Series), 4000 block of N. 9th St. Between 5:30p.m. on April 9, and 7a.m. on April 10, an unknown subject broke into at least two vehicles and stole various items. There is no suspect description.

    April 10: Attempt to Disarm Police/Drunk in Public (Arrest), 3800 block of Wilson Blvd. At 6p.m., an intoxicated and disorderly male attempted to disarm a police officer of his weapon. Anthony House, 42, of no fixed address was charged with Attempting to Disarm a Law Enforcement Officer, and Drunk in Public. He was held on a $2,500 bond.

    April 18: Destruction of Property (Series), 200 block of N. Glebe Road. On April 18 between 1a.m. and 9a.m., an unknown subject damaged at least three vehicles by puncturing a tire on each car. There are no known suspects.

    April 18: Robbery, 700 block of N. Oakland Street. At 2a.m., a man approached police and stated that an unknown group of men stole his camera and wallet. The victim was unable to describe the suspects.

    April 20: Welfare Fraud (Arrest), 4100 block of N. 3rd Road. Aisha El Amin, 46, of Arlington, was charged with felony Welfare Fraud and Forgery of a Public Record. Ms. El Amin altered documents to obtain housing grants. She was held on a $2,500 bond.

    April 18: Abduction (Arrest), 400 block of N. Thomas Street. At noon, a man grabbed a woman who was walking by. He attempted to pull her to his apartment saying that he would pay her for sex. A passerby intervened and called police. Police apprehended the suspect. Mario Saquiche Vasquez, 26, of Arlington, was charged with Abduction with the Intent to Defile. He was held without bond.

    April 21: Stolen Auto, 400 block of N. Park Drive. License tag number: VA 3Y1967. The motocycle was a 2004, yellow Suzuki.

    April 21: Stolen Auto, 200 block of N. George Mason Drive. License tag number: VA KJG9561. The minivan was a 1993, green Plymouth Voyager.

    April 22: Unlawful Entry, 400 block of N. Fillmore St. Between 10p.m. on April 21, and 7:30a.m. on April 22, an unknown subject entered a house under construction and damaged property. There is no suspect description.

    Click the icons for more information. Red=Person-to-person crime; Yellow=person-to-structure/vehicle crime; Blue=stolen vehicle; Purple=vehicle-to-vehicle crime; Aqua=miscellaneous. A dot in the icon indicates more than one suspect or victim. Click here to view larger map.

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    Wednesday, April 22, 2009

    No Clear Winner at the ACDC Debate

    Andres Tobar is quite funny. Miles Grant was often “horrified” at one thing or another. Pat Hope is a big fan of Hubert Humphrey. Alan Howze reminded us that “a rising tide raises all ships.” And Adam Parkhomenko is happy to work for $17,640 a year.

    Although I don’t think there was any clear winner in last night’s debate between the five Democrats running for the House of Delegates’ 47th District (Buckingham, Ashton Heights and Arlington Forest are all inside the 47th), I thought Mr. Parkhomenko had the weakest showing. The other four have their strengths, their areas of expertise, and though it’s tough to know what they know outside those areas sometimes, it’s at least clear they have those areas.

    If last night’s debate is any indication, it’s tough to see what Mr. Parkhomenko knows about public policy and the Virginia government. After the debate hosted by the Arlington County Democratic Committee, he admitted to me that he’s not a debater, and said that he thought last night’s went better than an earlier debate. However, many of his answers sounded more like post-game banter.

    In six years working for Senator-turned-presidential-candidate Hillary Clinton, “I was right there in the mix” while people were “giving it everything they got.” The question asked the candidates what skills working with other people they would bring to Richmond if they won.

    The Democrats are in full campaign now as they have a little more than six weeks until their June 9 primary that will determine who will run against Green Party candidate Josh Ruebner. Republicans have yet to field a candidate. Mr. Parkhomenko has the largest war chest (at nearly $49,000 he is leading the other four in donations by far), and has committed to campaigning and serving, if elected, without an outside job. Delegates are paid $17,640 per year.

    Since the candidates are all Democrats, the similarities far outweighed the differences. They are for: same-sex marriage, alternative energy, improved transportation, abortion rights, and better health-care, schools and jobs. I was looking for differences in the candidates, and I spotted them mainly, as I said, in their areas of expertise:

  • Miles Grant: environmental policy. His best answer I thought was when the candidates were asked if they were against a new coal-fired power plant in Surry County. He was not only against that one but had lobbied against the plant in Wise County that has directly led to energy rates rising, he said. People wonder if we can afford to get off coal, but he wondered if we can afford (economically and environmentally) to stay on coal. (All the candidates were against the plant, but I liked Mr. Tobar’s answer, too, that reminded the audience that coal makes up about 25 percent of Virginia’s energy, so “We have to realize it’s going to be with us for a while longer.”)

  • Pat Hope: healthcare policy. Mr. Hope has been a lobbyist in the health care field for years, and that was clear last night as he cited programs in this state and others. His best answer came when asked what Virginia will have to deal with even as everyone is primarily focused on a national health-care plan. He would move to make the federal- and state-funded Medicaid program purely need-based and make sure it covers all Virginians, not just women and children as it is currently set-up, he said.

  • Alan Howze: all-arounder (it's not really a single area of expertise, I know). He was a staffer for former Gov. Mark Warner (D), and clearly has an understanding of many different issues from transportation to health care. No single answer of his stands out for me (he’s actually a rather subdued candidate), but he brought up the idea of “decoupling” the utility company from its profits. He believes Dominion Virginia Power has no incentive to become more efficient or to lower energy use, but decoupling profits from sales might help.

  • Adam Parkhomenko: prison reform. He brought this issue up many times (and used it as a way to save money for transportation projects), but I still do not have a clear idea of what he knows about this issue, or what he sees as the largest problem or best solution. To be fair, that issue was not one of the questions asked, so he had to bring it up as a tangent to other questions. His best answer may have been the one when asked what program he would import from another state to Virginia, and he cited a farm-to-market program in New York; he thought some of the grow-local, sell-local ideas would be especially helpful in industries such as wine making.

  • Andres Tobar: immigration issues. Mr. Tobar has had to deal with the issues surrounding immigration his entire life, as his father was from Mexico (the candidate was born in Texas); his current job is as Executive Director of the Shirlington Employment and Education Center, which largely serves an immigrant population supports. I also thought his strongest answer dealt with the question of which program from another state he would import to Virginia if possible, and he answered that he liked Maryland’s driver’s license laws. He said he was afraid that Virginia’s move to restrict licenses to legal residents only would only make illegals likely to drive without a license. “It’s a safety issue, it’s not an immigration issue.”

    Republicans have yet to field a candidate.

    Green Party is running Josh Ruebner.

    Democrats will fight for their party's nomination, chosen by primary vote on June 9.

    The five Democratic candidates in the race include:

    Miles Grant; Patrick Hope; Alan Howze; Adam Parkhomenko; Andreas Tobar.

    Full Disclosure: I have known Pat Hope for years and consider him a friend.

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  • Sunday, April 19, 2009

    Bethel Church to Change the World from Buckingham

    The first event in the Bethel United Church of Christ “Change the World” program started by looking close to home: the Buckingham neighborhood. With a revitalization grant from the national UCC, the local church kicked off the program with an open house, inviting the community, especially people from the Buckingham Outreach Center, and Patrick Hope, the president of the Buckingham Community Civic Association.

    Patrick Hope spoke about "Buckingham--Its Past and Future" (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Mr. Hope gave a presentation “Buckingham—Its Past and Future.”

    “I didn’t talk about the present, because there is no present in Buckingham,” Mr. Hope said near the start of his speech in front of about 50 people, a healthy mix of English and Spanish speakers.

    People sat on folding chairs in the church basement and lunched on finger sandwiches, sodas, coffee and deserts [The tuna with sweet relish sandwiches were particularly good –ST.]

    The neighborhood is constantly changing, Mr. Hope said, and anything he said today about the present Buckingham would not be accurate tomorrow. His presentation included a summarized history of the BCCA, the key points of the Neighborhood Strategy Area plan which is a sort of planning blueprint for the community (improved lighting, sidewalks and pedestrian safety are among the concerns there), and future projects in and around the neighborhood (such as the American Service Center and Mosaic Park redevelopments).

    Buckingham Outreach Center Director Connie Freeman acted as a translator. The center operates out of a couple conjoined apartments in the Gates of Ballston complex. It serves the social service and other needs of Gates residents and others. She said in an interview that this was first time the church had asked the center to participate in an event. Quite a few people from the center attended.

    The church, on the northeast corner of N. George Mason Drive at Arlington Blvd., was formed in the 1940s and many members talked about how it was, and is, a community church, a church most congregants used to walk to, though most now are drawn from all over Arlington and nearby communities.

    Associate Pastor Carolyn Richar and Interim Pastor Don Smith. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    “We’re happy to have this connection to the Buckingham Community, and we hope it continues,” said Reverend Dr. Don Smith, the interim pastor of the small church of about 40 members.

    “Right now, we’re a fairly small congregation, but we’re building up,” said member Art Lipman.

    The “Change the World” program is part of the national UCC’s vision that puts thoughts to social action, according to the Web site The local church has a dediction to changing the world that goes beyond Buckingham.

    Bethel Church, along with La Luz Verdadera Iglesia—they share the church building on Arlington Blvd.—created the Vision of God Clinic in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador, a impoverished city on the Pacific coast.

    According to church materials, the clinic provides medical care, professionals and supplies, along with educational materials from a church basement in San Luis Talpa.

    Associate Pastor Rev. Carolyn Richar said she wants to see this clinic well-established before the church takes on another international project. She was credited by many members as instrumental in the formation of the clinic.

    Rev. Richar said this is the first event in a series that will continue into September.

    Although Mr. Hope is running for the Virginia House of Delegates, the church was clear that he was invited only in his official capacity as BCCA president.

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    Saturday, April 18, 2009

    Sneek Peek at the Madison at Ballston Station

    I’ll admit to being impressed by the Madison at Ballston Station. The new four-storey building on N. Pershing Drive near N. George Mason Drive boasts a community room, a business/conference room, a pool and exercise room with showers, all just off the modern lobby where fresh coffee is brewing and visitors can wait for residents.

    Mary Resnick worked the reception desk Friday. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    One hundred of the 234-units in this building are priced affordable, that is, within range of people making less than 60 percent of the area median income (about $60,000 for a family of four). People can rent 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments (there’s one efficiency at market rate).

    I’m sure part of what impresses me is that the building is new; everything inside is clean, the paint is fresh. More than that, though, they feel roomy, especially for apartments in Buckingham. Each has a walk-in closet attached to the main bedroom (the closet is about as big as the kitchen in my Buckingham townhouse. How often do you find that?.) The two bedroom that I toured had some unexpected angles, but they were used well. I really enjoyed the walk-through.

    All of the three-bedroom, and some of the two-bedroom units have two bathrooms, another rarity in this just-barely-north Arlington neighborhood. Lots of windows, some balconies; there’s a lot to love.

    The modern lobby includes this waiting room for guests. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    What’s more, the apartments are the same for both the people who rent at market and those who rent affordably save for the countertops: granite in the market-rate units, laminate for the affordable ones.

    "That's the only difference," said Micheline Castan-Smith, the manager of the project for Paradigm Development Corp., the developer of the site.

    The countertop choice was a decision made with the county government which loaned the developer about $7 million to be put toward the affordable units. They each have microwave ovens, laundry and dishwashers in the units.

    Micheline Castan-Smith led a tour of the Madison at Ballston Station, including the community room (picutured here and below). (Click to enlarge the image.)

    (Click to enlarge the image.)

    The carpets are a light tan, and the ovens are electric, what had been two sore points for some of the residents of Gates of Ballston after that property went under renovation. The Latino population in Gates complained that the electric was not as good as gas for cooking slowly with large pots over long periods of time. The carpets in some units were quickly soiled, especially by children and by the bicycles that many of the residents use to commute.

    A view from the kitchen through the dining and living rooms of a model, one-bedroom apartment. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Ms. Castan-Smith said “People really struggle with how to decorate,” and the neutral color of the carpet makes that easier. Plus, she said, with 80-some bike racks secured in the basement, “They don’t really need to bring their bikes into the units.”

    During the site planning, they decided to go all electric with the appliances because gas at the time was so high, she said.

    About 20 apartments have been rented so far. And quite a few people are in the application process. For people wishing to rent affordable units, especially, the process is a long one, requiring renters to prove that they make less than the income limit per household, which shifts depending on the number of adults and children living in the household, according to HUD and Fannie Mae.

    This is all part of the large redevelopment plan worked out between Paradigm and the county over the course of a year that ended during the summer of 2007. The redevelopment of Buckingham Village 3 (on the northeast corner of N. George Mason and Pershing drives) is a part of that process as well.

    Next up for the project is to move all the people out of the buildings along N. George Mason Drive and N. Henderson Road so that those buildings can be razed to be replaced by another large apartment building, a small county park, and a couple lines of townhouses.

    The relocation process is ongoing, with some of the people who live in those buildings taking units in the new building, Ms. Castan-Smith said. People who rent the affordable units must complete a lengthy application process.

    A walk-in closet attaches to the master bedroom in each apartment. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    The Madison at Ballston Station was built by Paradigm Development Company and is managed by their management arm.

    Related stories…
  • Board Votes on Villages, March 2007
  • BV Vote (click then scroll down), June 2007
  • Bham Villages to Begin Relocation (this one is good for a couple design images), June 2007.
  • Many of these stories have "tags" and other links that would connect you to yet more stories dealing with this very long process. --ST
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    Wednesday, April 15, 2009

    HeraldTrib Today: April 15, 2009

    Just a couple updates this week, for now. I'll be posting this weekend quite a bit more, I think.

    Church is hosting a community forum Sunday...

    A reminder that the Bethel Church (it's the small stone church located on the northeast corner of George Mason Drive at Arlington Blvd.) is holding a community forum this Sunday. Read the full notice here.

    ACDC holding a candidate forum next week...

    The Arlington County Democratic Committee is holding its candidate forum next Tuesday April 21, at the NRECA building on the corner of N. Glebe Road at Wilson Blvd. This is a chance for people to hear from the five Democrats running for the 47th House of Delegates seat. Incumbent Al Eisenberg (D) is not running for reelection. The Democratic primary is set for June 9.

    Josh Reubner is running on the Green Party ticket. Chosen by his party a couple weeks back, he does not have a primary to run.

    The Republicans have yet to field a candidate, but could do that as late as June 9.

    I have quite a few links here.

    Attention Teens: Summer Job Expo is April 18!...

    The annual Arlington Teen Summer Expo takes place Saturday, April 18 from 11a.m. to 1p.m. at the Arlington Career Center, 816 S. Walter Reed Drive. The Expo is an excellent opportunity for teens to get a jump on a summer job, internship or volunteer opportunities. For more information go to

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: Thurston).

    Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Police Notes April 3 to 9

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    Friday, April 10, 2009

    Police Notes April 3 to April 9

    (Updated with hot links Wednesday April 15, 11a.m.) These notes are compiled from Arlington County Police Department crime reports. They cover the reports from the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhoods. Normally the reports are pulled from (and linked to) the Arlington Police Deparment Web site, but that has only been partially updated. The rest of the reports are taken from the weekly police department email update, but those do not provide a link. If links become available, I will update. –ST

    April 2: Burglary, 300 block of N. Garfield St. On April 2, between 11a.m. and 2:30p.m., a known subject entered a residence and stole one item of little value. The subject is known to the victim. (No link available.)

    April 4: Malicious Wounding, Unit Block N. Glebe Road. At 2a.m., two men were approached by three unknown subjects. The suspects demanded money. When they did not receive it, one suspect cut a victim with a broken bottle. The suspects then fled. The suspects were white Hispanic males.

    April 4: Malicious Wounding, 200 block of N. Glebe Road. Two groups of men had a verbal argument in a restaurant. When two of the men left the restaurant, two suspects approached them, and one cut the victim’s face with an unknown item. The suspects and the acquaintance of the victim fled. The suspects were both male. One suspect was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt and green pants, and the second suspect was wearing a white shirt.

    April 5: Malicious Wounding (Arrest), 4300 block of N. 4th St. At 1 a.m., three men in an apartment were involved in a fight. One subject cut another on the arm with a kitchen knife, wounding him severely. Rigoberto Morales, 47, of Arlington, was charged with two counts of Malicious Wounding. He was held without bond.

    April 5: Stolen Auto, 4100 block of N. 9th St. License tag number: VA 64ARMY 2007 The truck is a 2007, green Toyota Highlander. (No link available.)

    April 6: Stolen Auto, 3200 block of N 10th St. Untagged 2001 Mercedes CL500, silver (No link available.)

    April 6: Stolen Auto, 3200 block of N 10th St. Untagged. The car is a 1995, green Mercedes S500. (No link available.)

    Click the icons for more information. Red=Person-to-person crime; Yellow=person-to-structure/vehicle crime; Blue=stolen vehicle; Purple=vehicle-to-vehicle crime. A dot in the icon indicates more than one suspect or victim. Click here to view a larger map.

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    Wednesday, April 08, 2009

    HeraldTrib Today April 8, 2009

    Barrett School May Get Trailers…

    At last week’s PTA meeting, K.W. Barrett Elementary School Principal Terry Bratt said she is requesting two trailers for the fifth grade. If the request goes through, they will be placed in the school’s backyard near the playground used by the youngest children, close to the back of the school.

    Barrett Teachers Are Equally Good…

    I don’t know who brought up the topic at the PTA meeting, but it was one that had me wondering: why didn’t Barrett nominate a teacher of the year? Kenmore Middle School teacher Elizabeth H. Castillo won the honor this year, and with the announcement came a list of nominated teachers. None from Barrett made the list. Why not? wondered parents in attendance.

    Turns out Barrett staffers don’t want it. They don’t like the idea of singling out one teacher over another.

    “We operate as a team,” said Rosa Briceno, the family involvement coordinator who was at the PTA meeting as a translator.

    “People turn you down” when you go to nominate them, Mrs. Bratt said.

    Even nominating Laurie Sullivan who won teacher of the year a few years back was difficult staff in attendance said.

    “People turn you down,” Mrs. Bratt said.

    But parent Sylvia Ortli said, “I’ll tell you what I see…Barrett doesn’t care.” It was an idea echoed by the parents in the room, with another person wondering if the school system could include a list of schools that did not compete, for clarity.

    “Believe me, we have philosophical talks about it,” Mrs. Bratt said.

    Ben Gessel Takes Second Place…

    Taylor Elementary School fifth grader Ben Gessel placed second at the Virginia state level competition of the 2009 National Geographic Bee, reports Arlington Public Schools.

    His mother, Marcy, a friend and long-time HeraldTrib reader wrote:

    “You betcha it's our Ben! We are extremely proud. This was Ben's first trip to the state bee--and Taylor's first time participating. The boy who won against Ben, a 7th-grader from Herndon, had been to the state finals last year. Another boy came over to us after the competition. He had been one of the top 10 finalists, but went out relatively early. Turns out he was last year's state champion. We're excited that Ben will have 3 more chances to compete because you can keep trying through 8th grade.”

    She also wrote that Ben just reads a lot of maps for fun. Good job, Ben!

    American Service Center's plans...

    I went to an association meeting at the Hyde Park condominium, the 12-storey high-rise mixed-use building built in the 1970s at the northwest corner of N. Glebe at N. Henderson roads. This is the second event regarding the proposed development that I have covered.

    Personally, I find this stuff fascinating. The zoning, planning, the just-under-boil emotions. All a lot of fun. The problem, of course, is that many of you probably don't feel the same, don't want all the nitty-gritty zoning stuff. So, I cut that from the story, and in the summarization, pray that I don't get anything wrong. Let me know if I have. Find the link to the story below.

    The Week’s Headlines…
    As always, you can scroll down to see all the recent stories, or simply click the links below (if the link doesn't work, scroll down to find the story, and email to tell me what's busted: --Steve Thurston).

    Today's Headlines:

  • Hyde Park Chilly but Cordial to ASC Redevelopment

  • Announcements:
  • Bethel Church to Host B'ham Discussion

  • Headlines from Earlier in the Week:

  • Green Party Fields Candidate in 47th District
  • W-L Principal Tops in County
  • Police Notes March 27 - April 3

  • Letters and Comments:
  • Clean-up and Slow Down
  • "Grave of Ei Intoku"
  • From a couple weeks ago, the HeraldTrib Today column garnered a few interesting comments about political yard signs you might like (click the link and scroll down).

  • Announcements:
  • B'ham Youth Brigade Fundraiser Tonight (It was on Tuesday; sorry if you missed it. I posted the notice once I saw it, but it had come to me rather late.)

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  • Hyde Park Chilly but Cordial to ASC Redevelopment

    Mercedes dealer has proposed a six-storey building that will replace the old building and the parking lot.

    This artist's rendering shows the N. Glebe Road (foreground) at N. Randolph Street corner of the ASC proposed redevelopment. (Click to enlarge the image, provided by Lessard Commercial architects.)

    Hyde Park Condominium residents were largely cordial to the representatives of American Service Center at a meeting of the two groups last night. Hyde Park invited ASC to present its plan to redevelop its Mercedes dealership at the N. Glebe Road at N. Randolph Street corner which ASC shares with Hyde Park.


    Hyde Park board secretary Ronald Bashian opened the meeting saying it was “noteworthy and commendable” that ASC was redeveloping in this down economy, but that the 30 residents attending had questions.

    “We don’t want to put American Service Center at a disadvantage,” against other companies in the area, he said near the end of the meeting.

    The car dealership plans to redevelop all of its property where the current building and a surface-level parking lot now stand. As well, the company must remain open during the renovation of the building. This requires phased reconstruction that will take at least six years, officials said.

    (Click to enlarge the image.)

    The first section to go will be the parking lot at the corner of N. Glebe and N. Randolph. A six-storey addition will rise in its place. Given that the company must remain open, each new section will house a portion of the operation that will be dislocated in subsequent phases.

    Phase I, for instance, will include a new employee break room and parts department because those two departments in the old building will be razed during Phase II. Only one section of the current building, along N. 5th Road, will remain when the reconstruction is complete.

    The point of the renovation, officials said at last night’s meeting and during a tour of the facility last month, is to move the entire new car service and sales inside the building, and to allow all employees to park on site. Currently, some operations take place in various buildings in the Ballston area, and about 100 of the 250 employees park at the Ballston Commons mall parking lot, a block away. The blue car racks on N. Randolph Street, near the Super Pollo restaurant, will no longer be needed.

    Roof-top parking, noise and lighting among Hyde Park's concerns

    Hyde Park residents were concerned with the look of roof-top parking across N. Glebe from their east wall, with nighttime lighting, with the height and scale of the large building, with the noise of reconstruction, and with the impact on traffic.

    One resident wondered about turning the roof of the building “green,” with shrubbery or trees.

    “If you have a new building, you should change that because it’s ugly,” she said of the parking lot on top of the roof.

    Architect Dave Clear addresses about 30 people at Hyde Park. (Click to enlarge the image.)

    But Dave Clear, an architect with Lessard Commercial, said at last month’s tour that they cannot build the roof strong enough to support the heavier, green roof, especially if they are to have space enough for cars.

    ASC officials shot down an underground parking garage because of the difficulty and expense. Above ground parking was hard enough, Mr. Clear said, calling the triangular shape of the site the “least efficient” shape for parking.

    Hyde Park residents seemed happy to have ASC employees continue to park at the mall, if that meant ASC would take a storey or two off their building.

    Another resident wondered about the noise of construction, especially given that the last reconstruction effort by the dealership a few years ago included nighttime demolition. General Manager Ralph Mastantuono said that was a unique situation because the building’s garage needed to be reinforced when fewer cars were present, that is, at night. That should not be the case with this reconstruction.

    The residents gave mixed, generally unfavorable, reviews of the building’s facades, especially the one facing Hyde Park. It includes stainless steel mesh between the levels of the parking garage to keep birds away from the new cars, and to make the building look less like a garage, Mr. Clear said.

    The façade at the corner of N. Glebe and N. Randolph, includes wavy aluminum, reminiscent of architect Frank Gehry’s work. Although many at the meeting complained of the look as too large, resident Alan Flora, an architect himself, said the structure “shows a progressiveness” that is not too often seen in Arlington. At the same time, he called the phasing “disjointed.” He was not overly impressed with the design.

    Mr. Clear said one of the difficulties designing this project was that “most buildings have a back. Our building has no back.” Each side of the building must blend into the next side and must be able to be constructed in phases.

    Patrick Brady, another resident and architect, said, “I was disappointed that they’re not going for more LEED points.” LEED is an independent certification process that determines how environmentally friendly a building is. According to a county report, the design has 24 LEED points, two shy of the lowest LEED certification.

    Mr. Clear said they will be looking more closely at the certification in the future. When to apply in a phased project like this is a consideration.

    The project has come before the county's Site Plan Review Committee twice, once for design and once for other issues. The SPRC is a sub-committee of the Planning Commission and is made up of county staff and citizens, including some from the Ashton Heights neighborhood, where the building is located.

    “We’re focused on how the building looks and operates,” said Rich Dooley, the county’s lead planner on this project. “Does it meet what the people want?” he asked, “It remains to be seen.”

    (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Related stories including artist renderings…
  • Mercedes Dealer to Redevelop
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    Bethel Church to Host B'ham Discussion

    Buckingham Neighborhood Open House ~ All Are Invited
    Sunday April 19 from 10am – 2pm
    Hosted by Bethel Church

    On Sunday, April 19, Bethel Church is hosting a “Buckingham Neighborhood Open House” from 10a.m. until 2p.m.

    At 11:30, Patrick Hope, President of the Buckingham Community Civic Association, will give a presentation on “Changes in Buckingham.”

    This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to learn more about the future of our neighborhood – and to meet our neighbors. Many neighborhood organizations have also been invited to attend and will be available to answer questions and provide literature about their services.

    All are invited to attend Bethel’s 10:00a.m. Worship Service, with special music provided by the 16-piece “Strings Ensemble,” followed by a Neighborhood Welcome Reception at 11:00a.m. and the presentation at 11:30.

    Bethel Church will also offer tours of the building, which is designated as an Emergency Shelter for the Buckingham neighborhood.

    Bethel Church is located at 4347 Arlington Blvd. (Northeast corner of Arlington Blvd & George Mason Dr). Free parking is available in the Red Cross parking lot next door (access to lot off Trenton or Arlington Blvd). Church driveways are reserved for those with special needs. Bethel Church is handicap accessible. (Those who park in the Arlington Oaks Condominium lot next door to the church will be towed.)

    For more information about the event, call Bethel’s main office at (703)528-0937. Please plan to attend and bring your neighbors.

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    Tuesday, April 07, 2009

    B'ham Youth Brigade Fundraiser Tonight


    Tuesday, April 7
    5p.m. to midnight
    BUSBOYS AND POETS Restaurant, Shirlington.
    (4251 South Campbell Avenue Arlington, VA)

    Busboys and Poets in Shirlington will be donating five percent of their dinner shift to BYB. All you have to do is come and eat (and pay) tonight, and you will be supporting BYB!

    It’s so simple, and delicious!

    A project of the BU-GATA Tenants Association, BYB exists in order to celebrate, inspire, and reflect the dreams and goals of the youth in and around the Buckingham neighborhood in Arlington.

    Questions? Call Mimi at 703-302-5140. BU-GATA is a Federal Tax Exempt 501 (c )(3) organization partially funded by the Arlington County CDBG Program and the Freddie Mac Foundation.

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    Monday, April 06, 2009

    Green Party Fields Candidate in 47th District

    No Republicans yet, but the Green Party last week chose Josh Ruebner as their nominee for the House of Delegates seat in the 47th District. The seat is being vacated by Al Eisenberg (D) when his term ends this year.

    Mr. Ruebner ran twice unsuccessfully for the Arlington County board, in 2006 and 2007, and his platform in this race reflects his party's name.

    He wants to: enable Virginia localities to tax or ban plastic bags; place a moratorium on the construction of new coal-fired electrical plants and ban the practice of mountain-top coal-mining removal in Virginia while placing a moratorium on the expansion of nuclear power and maintaining Virginia ’s ban on uranium mining; abolish the death penalty in Virginia and automatically restore voting rights for previously incarcerated Virginians, among other priorities, his campaign web site says.

    Mr. Ruebner took part in a discussion with the HeraldTrib during the 2007 campaign for the County Board. Read that story here.

    Republicans have yet to field a candidate.

    Green Party is running Josh Ruebner.

    Democrats will fight for their party's nomination, chosen by primary vote on June 9.

    The five Democratic candidates in the race include:

    Miles Grant; Patrick Hope; Alan Howze; Adam Parkhomenko; Andreas Tobar.

    Miles Grant won the support of activist Charlie Conrad earlier this week (March 9 post).

    Adam Parkhomenko won the endorsement of Virginia Sen. Patsy Ticer in the first week of March. Mr. Parkomenko earlier won the endorsement of Al Eisenberg's sons; read the Sun Gazette's story here (from Feb. 19).

    Buckingham Community Civic Association President Pat Hope recently picked up the endorsement of Arlington County Sherrif Beth Arthur and others. Earlier, two county board members and a former delegate gave him their support--read the Sun Gazette story here (from Feb. 17). He has won the endorsement of Elaine Furlow (Feb. 28), a former school board member and chair, and the endorsement of Ted Bilich,Ashton Height's Civic Association President (from Feb. 19).

    They all made news in the Connection on Feb. 3 and again on Feb. 25
    Local Politics: Board Members Take Sides In 47th

    Full Disclosure: I have known Pat Hope for years and consider him a friend.

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    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    Police Notes March 27 to April 3

    These notes are compiled from Arlington County Police Department crime reports. They cover the reports from the Buckingham, Arlington Forest and Ashton Heights neighborhoods. --ST

    March 27: Larceny from Auto (Series), 5700 block of N. 5th St. Between 10p.m. on March 27, and 12p.m. on March 28, two vehicles in the same block were broken into. Various items were stolen. There is no suspect description.

    March 28: Attempted Robbery, 300 block of N. Glebe Road. At 9p.m., a man was approached by an unknown male who asked him for money. The victim did not have any, and the suspect displayed a knife, and then walked away. The suspect was white Hispanic male, 5feet 4inches, wearing dark clothing.

    March 31: Stolen License Tags (2), 200 block of N. Glebe Rd. License tag: MD 3BMA82.

    April 2: Stolen License Tag (1), 3500 block of S. 2nd St. License tag: MD 11W506.

    Click the icons for more information. Red=Person-to-person crime; Yellow=person-to-structure/vehicle crime; Blue=stolen vehicle; Purple=vehicle-to-vehicle crime. A dot in the icon indicates more than one suspect or victim. Click here to view larger map.

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    Wednesday, April 01, 2009

    Letter: Clean-Up and Slow Down


    THANKS for your great community news and information -- so valuable to our community.

    I'm writing, as a 15-year Buckingham resident, requesting you to post a plea, reflecting not just my own sentiments but many that I hear from neighbors: Please CLEAN UP and SLOW DOWN, Arlington!

    Our local streets are filthy with litter, a lot of it cigarette butts. Please don't litter -- so very inconsiderate -- and clean up the debris surrounding your residence, including the gutters and sidewalks. Our neighborhood is really becoming a mess due to the carelessness and laziness of a few.

    And please obey the speed limits, especially on the secondary streets that may not have posted the legal speed limit of 25 MPH. The speeders are endangering the lives of our residents and their pets.

    Thank you,
    David Giger

    Letters and Comments policy:

    I welcome emails-to-the-editor (I love to get them) as well as comments posted to stories or letters. I value your opinions whether or not they match my own. I will never edit the meaning of your letter or comment.

    Comment on stories three ways: 1,click the story headline, and a comment box appears below the story; 2, click the word "comment" at the bottom of the story, and the comment box appears; 3, email me (please include your full name and neighborhood).

    I assume that any email that deals with news or issues of the day is meant for posting to the site, unless I am told otherwise. I will only post letters with full names (and I have to be sure that the email address it came from is owned/controlled by the person at the bottom of the letter).

    I will edit letters as little as possible, for space, typos, clarity or other similar corrections. I will remove personal information not necessary to the content from either emails or comments. Comments can be anonymous.

    Libelous letters and comments will be removed the instant I see them. --ST

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    W-L Principal Tops in County

    From a press release:

    Washington-Lee High School principal Gregg Robertson has been named the Arlington Public Schools 2009 Principal of the Year and will be recognized as The Washington Post's Distinguished Educational Leadership Award recipient for Arlington, a press release said.

    “Gregg is inspiring a generation of students to be thoughtful, sensitive, and responsible while he also helps them to grow, learn and achieve at school and in life,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert Smith. “I am very pleased that he has been chosen for this award,” Smith added in the release.

    Robertson (Click to enlarge the image.)

    Robertson has been an APS administrator for 11 years. From 1999-2002 he served as assistant principal and then principal of Swanson Middle School before assuming the leadership as principal of Washington-Lee High School in 2002.

    Robertson graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Science in middle and secondary education. He received a Master of Science in adult and continuing education and an Ed.S. in educational leadership from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

    Fostering cooperation between the school and the community is a big part of Robertson's leadership focus.

    “Mr. Robertson has been a strong fixture of the highest moral standing. Because of his support, strong sense of value, openness and undeniable commitment to his students, our boys have grown into young men that any parents would be proud of,” said parent Bryce Harding.

    Robertson actively seeks input from all stakeholders. He maintains an open-door policy which encourages his colleagues, students, their parents, and the greater Arlington community to engage in friendly and substantive conversations.

    “I can sum up what makes Mr. Robertson such a great principal in two words. He listens,” said senior class president Will Farley.

    His leadership has enabled Washington-Lee to create a successful learning community. Washington-Lee has been consistently ranked among the top high schools in the country according to Newsweek's Challenge Index.

    Robertson will be honored at The Washington Post on April 29 as one of 19 principals in the metropolitan area who will receive The Post's Distinguished Educational Leadership Award. He will also be recognized by the Arlington School Board at its meeting on Thursday, April 30.

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    Letter: "Grave of Ei Intoku"


    The Japanese characters are "Senpu--Intoku Ei no Haku," or "Deceased Father--The Grave of Ei Intoku."


    Ken Moskowitz
    Ashton Heights

    The photo comes courtesy of Vic Socotra as part of his Arlington Annex column Columbia Gardens Has All Kinds of Spooks. --ST

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