Arlington, VA

A week after devastating flash flooding, the lights are coming back on for some affected businesses in Arlington.

SER Restaurant in Ballston, which was inundated by water coming through the ceiling during the Flash Flood Emergency, is planning to reopen at 5 p.m. today (Monday), co-owner Christiana Campos told ARLnow.

The reopening comes after the local community rallied to raise more than $10,000 for SER in a GoFundMe campaign. SER says the donations are being used to help fund needed repairs while the owners work through the insurance claim process.

“Thanks to our hard working staff, our construction crew who have been working around the clock to fix the damage and thanks to the humbling outpouring of support from the community, we are so thrilled to being opening today,” Campos told ARLnow. “The power of this community is truly incredible.”

In Westover, where floodwaters destroyed merchandise and knocked out power, the two hardest-hit businesses — Westover Market and Beer Garden, and Ayers Variety and Hardware — first reopened in a limited fashion on Wednesday. Over the weekend, Westover Market announced it was back on utility power and off generators.

“Finally! Regular hours going forward!” the store exclaimed on Facebook. “Limited fresh produce [and] meats have been delivered! Every day we’ll inch closer to 100%. Thanks so much for all the incredible support! We need it! And please send support and prayers to the other businesses affected by the storm!”

A GoFundMe campaign for the Westover merchants has raised more than $67,500.

Also in Westover, the weekly farmers market was held over the weekend, thanks to quick repairs to 18th Street N., which was damaged by the flooding. On Saturday, the director of the company that organizes the market wrote the following letter to Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz, lauding the dedicated repair crews.

Mr. Schwartz —

I was notified late this afternoon that the emergency street repairs on 18th Street N. have been completed. Our nonprofit organization is very grateful for the County’s quick response to address the street damage caused by the torrential rain last Monday morning…

This section of the roadway serves on Sunday mornings as a key part of the Westover Farmers Market. We have been in contact with vendors all week regarding whether the Westover Farmers Market could take place, given the roadway damage caused by the storm. This evening I was able to send them an “all clear” message. So tomorrow morning’s market should run without a hitch. […]

Please send our thanks to the personnel in the Department of Environmental Services and to the contractors who assist them for a job well and quickly done. The neighbors who shop each week at this farmers market will benefit from their outstanding efforts this week.

Rob Swennes, Executive Director
Field to Table, Inc.

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The county is hoping to move past the “million-dollar bus stop” by building four less expensive stops along Columbia Pike.

A network of new transit stops along Columbia Pike were originally supposed to serve both buses and streetcars, before the streetcar project was cancelled. The latest turn in the Pike transit saga, the County Board is scheduled to discuss awarding a $1.64 million contract to build four out of 23 planned bus stops along the Pike.

“This project is key to the revitalization of the entire Columbia Pike corridor,” county staff wrote in a report to the Board.

The original construction plans were scrapped six years ago after the more than $1 million in costs for the prototype Walter Reed Drive stop, first reported by ARLnow, drew outrage from the public and international press attention.

After the streetcar project folded in 2014, officials morphed the idea of the transit stations into cheaper bus stops. Since then, the county approved $13.3 million for the planned 23 stations in Arlington’s FY 2017-2026 Capital Improvement Plan.

At its Tuesday meeting, the County Board is expected to award a contract to build four of the bus stops to Alexandria-based Sagres Construction Corporation. The same contractor was previously tapped for roadwork on Wilson Blvd and other infrastructure projects.

The four bus stops would be located near the intersections of:

  • Columbia Pike and S. Buchanan Street
  • Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive
  • Columbia Pike and S. Oakland Street
  • Columbia Pike and S. Glebe Road

If the Board members approve the contract, the county is poised to pay Sagres $1,372,250.70 for the work with the possibility of an additional $274,450.14 for unexpected costs.

Sagres was the least expensive bidder for the project by more than a million dollars, per a staff report to the Board.

“The four new transit stations coming to the Pike are the critical first step in the larger multi-modal project that will enhance transit along the Pike, and bring us one step closer to providing connectivity between the Columbia Pike Corridor, Crystal City and the new Amazon HQ2,” Kim Klingler, the new Executive Director of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization, told the Sun Gazette.

County staff will attend 10 community events like the Pike’s farmer market, movie nights at Arlington Mill, and the Blues Festival to talk with residents about the project, per the report.

“The feedback received from the public thus far has been generally positive,” the staff report notes. “However, concerns about disruption to vehicular and pedestrian traffic during construction have been expressed. Other concerns noted include sun and weather protection.”

Construction on the four bus stops could finish as early as spring 2020, but officials have not yet shared when they expect contracts to be awarded for the remaining stations.

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A 35-year-old D.C. man exposed himself to a woman in Rosslyn and then spit on her, according to Arlington County Police.

The alleged incident happened Saturday morning around 8:15 a.m., outside a business on the 1700 block of N. Lynn Street, just south of Wilson Blvd.

“The victim was attempting to enter a business when the male suspect allegedly confronted her outside the entrance, exposing his genitals and touching himself inappropriately,” police said in a crime report today. “The male made inappropriate comments to the victim and spit on her. The male subsequently entered the business and was refusing to leave”.

“Arriving officers located the male suspect inside of the business and took him into custody without incident,” the ACPD crime report continues. “Donte Smith, 35, of Washington, D.C. was arrested and charged with Indecent Exposure and Assault & Battery.”

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This Community Post was written by Embracing Arlington Arts and underwritten by Washington Workplace.

  • School children earning higher grades. High schoolers scoring better on their SATs. Senior citizens keeping their brains stimulated to help stave off neurological diseases.
  • Veterans successfully battling PTSD. Higher percentages of residents volunteering in their community. Lower unemployment numbers. Persons with physical disabilities (like Parkinson’s) improving their motor skills.
  • More active voters. Young adults getting confidence to speak in public. Local restaurants busier and earning higher revenue. Mentally ill patients staying calmer for longer periods of time.

Pie in the sky aspirations for Arlington? Not at all. These outcomes are all proven to be the result when a community has active and vibrant arts and culture programs available to all ages living in that community. That is why Embracing Arlington Arts keeps spreading the word as far and wide as possible about the importance of arts and culture.

Founded a little over two years ago, this citizens group’s mission is to inform others about the importance and diversity of the arts, artists and arts organizations in our community; celebrate the critical contributions the arts make to all sectors of our County; spearhead initiatives that maintain and grow the County’s cultural identity; and spread the word about the diverse performance and cultural events held in Arlington.

Submit your own community post here.

Progressive Voice is a weekly column. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of their organizations or ARLnow.com

By Maggie Davis

While there are many ways to define the Arlington community — subjectively and objectively — one crucial factor is the baseline data of how many people live in the County, as collected by the decennial Census.

Last year, I wrote about how census data affects Arlington’s bottom line. While there are still concerns regarding the logistics of administering the Census, the larger concern now is the Trump administration’s aggressive and persistent fight to include a citizenship question in the Census. Wrangling over this question has sowed distrust that is expected to result in an undercount. Arlington has to come together and work harder than ever to ensure an accurate and thorough Census in 2020.

In July 2018, then Arlington County Board Chair Katie Cristol submitted a letter on behalf of the County Board to the U.S. Department of Commerce urging it to omit the Trump administration’s proposed citizenship question from the 2020 Census because it “is divisive in nature, is unnecessary and will result in an undercount of residents.” Similarly, several states and other interested parties sued the Trump administration to prevent the question from being included in the 2020 Census, with the issue eventually rising to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The question before the Supreme Court was whether the Commerce Department Secretary, Wilbur Ross, had the authority to include a citizenship question in the Census. In its June opinion, the Supreme Court determined Secretary Ross did have the discretion to include the question. However, a narrowly divided (5-4) court found the Trump administration’s stated reason for including the question — to improve enforcement of the Voting Rights Act — to be pretextual.

Recently uncovered evidence showed a key section of the administration’s rationale for the question was written by a longtime Republican strategist who asserted a census citizenship question would disadvantage Democrats and be “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites.” The Supreme Court did not rule that the census could not include the question — only that the administration needed to provide a different and more convincing rationale for the question to one of the U.S District Courts with pending cases (New York and Maryland).

Then the process got weird.

Read More

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(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) Over a thousand residents have reported damage to their homes and several tons of debris was collected after last week’s torrential rainstorm that caused widespread flooding in Arlington.

The deadline for residents to report initial damages to their homes was Friday, July 12. Today (Monday) officials told ARLnow that a total of 1,029 people filed post-storm damage claims.

The damage reports describe a range of problem from minor (clogged drains) to major (completely flooded basements), said Hannah Winant, a spokeswoman with Arlington’s Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management (PSCEM) department.

Winant said the reports will help Arlington County’s recovery and flood mitigation efforts.

“First, reports help us determine what neighborhoods have been impacted by weather. For example, we may learn if someone needs a safety inspection after electricity loss,” she said. “Second, damage reports help us better convey our needs to the state when requesting potential resources to assist with recovery efforts. The more clearly we can articulate how many people have been impacted… the better we can advocate for our community and potentially collaborate with state and federal partners to help.”

As for the destruction of county property like pedestrian bridges and public parks, Winant says Arlington is current estimating about $4.1 million in damages — up from initial estimates last week of $3.5 million.

PSCEM’s director clarified during Saturday’s Arlington County Board meeting that these reports are used for the county’s state and federal aid applications, and that affected residents will have another change to summit damage claims later.

Crews hauled away 60 tons of debris — from rolled up carpets to soggy books to water-damaged furniture — during special collections from Wednesday to Saturday, according to Department of Environmental Services spokeswoman Katie O’Brien. That doesn’t include the ruined parts of people’s homes that dotted curbs around Arlington, waiting to be collected on regular trash pick-up days.

O’Brien said that county crews are scheduled to continue helping residents affected by the floods clear debris this week. The department previously apologized for a contractor who cited some flood-stricken residents “for improper trash preparation.”

Many homes, shops, restaurants, and pieces of public infrastructure were damaged by last Monday’s unusually strong storm — leading County Manager Mark Schwartz to declare a state of emergency in a bid for state or federal aid two days later.

“Our community experienced a rain event on Monday the likes of which no one who lives in Arlington, or who has lived in Arlington, has ever seen,” said County Board Chair Christian Dorsey at the Board’s weekend meeting, during which members unanimously voted to finalize the declaration. “The violent storm that turned the daytime sky as dark as night in a matter in minutes.”

PSCEM Director Aaron Miller told the Board that the county met the $3 million minimum damage threshold needed to qualify for state aid, and that the Small Business Administration (SBA) is sending inspectors to Arlington this week to verify the damage reports. The SBA could offer grants or low-interest loans for residents to rebuild.

Miller said additional aid hinges on a tangle of bureaucratic red tape among FEMA and larger emergency declarations that can only happen at the federal level when certain damage thresholds are met.

Dorsey added that he hoped that Virginia or the federal government will be able to give “some sort of help” but that the majority of costs are likely to fall on homeowners and business owners.

Several members of the public urged the Board to re-examine its storm water management system in hard-hit areas. Board Member Erik Gutshall proposed that the county start thinking about flood-ready construction for more resilient buildings and infrastructure.

Dorsey praised county staff for their work over the past week but noted that, “we do have to up our game” in face of future potential impacts from climate change. 

“It is quite frankly a blessed miracle that no one was killed or even seriously injured with the events of this past Monday and for that we are profoundly grateful,” he said.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.

Mechaniku is built on a simple frustration: no one likes waiting for their car to get worked on. So Mechaniku will work with users to have a mechanic sent out to change their oil.

The company is based along Columbia Pike, where co-founders Jesse Tyler and Clifton Hartsuff live.

“In a society fast becoming overtaken by technology I am shocked this is not already a common service provided in every city,” Tyler said. “We live in a world of convenience and I believe people will pay for this service because it ultimately makes lives easier. It takes a time-consuming and aggravating practice and simplifies it.”

The company currently only has one service: a full synthetic oil change in 30 minutes for $100. It’s a little pricey as far as oil changes go, which average a little under $50. But Tyler said the convenience is part of the cost.

“It’s about the convenience of having someone come to your home,” Tyler said. “We did one for a guy here on Columbia Pike… he said ‘I’ll pay $150 if it means I don’t have to get out of my pajamas and go sit in a line on Sunday morning.'”

Tyler said half of the $100 goes to the mechanic, while the other half goes to the company. The goal, Tyler said, is to connect qualified mechanics with freelance jobs to help make some money on the side.

In the future, Tyler said the company could expand to tire rotation and other light car maintenance jobs, but he’s in no rush to grow.

“I think several of the groups on the market with a similar model have made the mistake of trying to do everything instead of focusing on doing a service well and what they end up doing by trying to do everything is not doing a very good job of anything,” Tyler said. “We seek to be the best at offering on demand oil changes to our customers with the ultimate goal of providing excellent service and giving them time back.”

Tyler said the pricing and types of oil changes could also change over time as the company continues to refine its business model. The company’s app is currently available on Android and Tyler said the company is working to get it onto the Apple App Store on iOS.

“My father always told me not to reinvent the wheel,” said Tyler. “So we’ve taken an existing business and improved on it.”

Image via Mechaniku

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This is a sponsored column by attorneys John Berry and Kimberly Berry of Berry & Berry, PLLC, an employment and labor law firm located in Northern Virginia that specializes in federal employee, security clearance, retirement and private sector employee matters.

By John V. Berry, Esq.

In April of 2016, we earlier wrote on the efforts of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and their efforts to receive equal pay as compared to the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team.

Much has happened in the past three years to warrant an update. For one, the women’s team has won another World Cup, recently with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands. For another, national sponsors of soccer (e.g., Procter and Gamble) have begun to join the fight for equal pay on the side of the women’s team. Lastly, the equal pay movement has become stronger over the past three years. Attached is a copy of the original equal pay complaint.

Equal Pay Cases Take a Long Time

It is an unfortunate fact that the EEOC has taken so long with this case. As mentioned earlier, the case started in early 2016 and originally involved the five team captains of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, such as Hope Solo and Carli Lloyd, who filed a wage discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on behalf of all members of the women’s team against the U.S. Soccer Federation.

Since the 3-year delay at the EEOC, all 28 women’s team players have withdrawn their EEOC case and filed suit in the federal district court in Los Angeles, alleging that the U.S. Soccer Federation has engaged in several years of institutional gender discrimination. A copy of that complaint is linked.

Equal Pay Complaint

In the latest filing by plaintiffs Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and other women’s team members, they allege the serious pay discrepancies that continue to exist between the men’s and women’s teams.

Specifically, members of the women’s team can potentially earn a maximum of $99,000 a year, while members of the men’s team earn an average of $263,320 per year. Other disparities include the U.S. Soccer Federation only providing charter air flights to the men’s team in 2017, but requiring the women’s team to take commercial air flights.

The reason why this case is so newsworthy is the fact that the women’s team has been out performing the men’s team in rankings and World Cup wins for a long time. The women’s team has been ranked number one in the world for 10 of the past 11 years. Also, in more recent years, the women’s team has been outperforming the men’s team in revenue and profits as well, and in viewership. For instance, the 2019 Women’s Cup Final viewership was 22% higher than the 2018 Men’s Cup Final.

While the Soccer Federation has claimed market considerations as the reason for paying the men’s team more, the women’s team, according to the complaint, has started to outperform the men’s soccer team in revenue and profit in the most recent accounts. Additionally, according to the complaint, the women’s team had even proposed a revenue-sharing agreement where women’s player compensation would be less if their revenue decreased. It seems as if the U.S. Soccer Federation needs a reality check.

Conclusion

It is time that the U.S. Soccer Federation recognize and pay the women’s team at least the same as their male counterparts on the two national teams and provide them the same benefits. We represent employees in employment matters.

If you need assistance with a federal retirement or an employment issue, please contact our office at (703) 668-0070 or at www.berrylegal.com to schedule a consultation. Please also visit and like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/BerryBerryPllc.

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A project to repave Arlington County’s large surface parking lot in Courthouse is now underway.

The first phase of the project, which will make some repairs in a small portion of the lot, is scheduled to take place through Wednesday. The bulk of the project is scheduled from Aug. 18-26, necessitating the lot’s closure and the one-week cancellation of the Courthouse Farmers Market.

Eventually, the parking lot is envisioned to become open, green space atop a new underground parking garage — though the repaving project suggests that plan is still far from becoming reality.

More from a county press release:

The Arlington County Police Department will close parts of the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center Surface Parking Lot, located at N. Courthouse Road and N. 14th Street in Courthouse, during July and August for the Department of Environmental Services to complete a milling and paving project.

Phase I Closures (July 14-17)

  • The small lot adjacent to the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street and a designated area in the northeast corner of the large metered lot will be closed to vehicles beginning at 1:00 p.m. on July 14 until July 17 to complete curb and vault repairs prior to milling and paving.

Phase II Closures (August 18-26)

  • The entirety of the large metered lot, the small lot adjacent to the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street and the 1400 block of N. Uhle Street will be closed to vehicles beginning at 1:00 p.m. on August 18 until August 26 to complete milling and paving work. The Courthouse Farmers Market will be cancelled on August 24.

Throughout the duration of the project, on-street parking will be available in the area, as well as parking in the public lot under the Ellen M. Bozman Government Center located at 2100 Clarendon Boulevard.

Motorists are advised to be on the lookout for temporary “No Parking” signs in affected areas during Phase I and the entirety of lot during Phase II of the parking lot. Vehicles parked in these areas may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street or lot, call the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222.

Photo via Google Maps

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On the Go Fitness Pro offers in home personal training to customers in Northern Virginia.

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