On the ground in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Archive for February 2011

Bagpiper takes advantage of sunny day (Photo)

February 17, 2011 - 01:24 PM
This guy's tunes were hard to miss around lunch time in Courthouse today. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Update: The piper is an Arlington County employee named Eric Rice-Johnston, ARLNow points out. They also noticed this guy's penchant for playing on sunny days last spring

People streamed out of their office buildings during this unseasonably warm lunch hour today, and a few of them around Courthouse were privy to an added treat. A lone bagpiper was providing some lunchtime entertainment in the small park in front of the courthouse in Arlington today.

He was gone by the time we returned to ask his name, so we're still not sure what brought him out this afternoon (other than the gorgeous weather.) The sound of bagpipes are hardly a rarity around Arlington, but this guy was not the same bagpiper that Ode Street Tribune spotted in Rosslyn last August.

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Neighbors still trying to appeal county's O'Connell High School decision

February 17, 2011 - 07:00 AM
Bishop O'Connell High School
Neighbors closest to the school aren't on board with a proposal to light the atheltic fields. (Photo: Jay Westcott)

How ferocious is the fight to stop Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School in Arlington from renovating and lighting its athletic fields? One group of residents has now filed an appeal of a decision to reject their previous appeal of the plan.

There's still another month before the Arlington County Board will hear testimony about the hated lights (traffic! noise! brightness!). In the meantime, a group of eight neighbors is taking their case to the county's Board of Zoning Appeals. They question why the school was able to get approval for its $6 million field renovation without going before the County Board. The county's zoning administrator signed off on the plans, minus the lights, in July.

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Impulse Buys: Mystery vegetable magnet

February 16, 2011 - 04:47 PM
Veggie Magnet
Yeah, we don't know. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Snapshots of the wild, weird, and wonderful things you can buy around the D.C. area.

Product: Magnet in the form of some kind of vegetable

Cost: 50 cents

Available at: Java Shack, 2507 N. Franklin Road, Clarendon

Why you might want it: You need something to balance out the mystery meat magnet on your fridge. Or, you got more of those holiday photo cards this year than you have magnets, and you can't bring yourself to toss those pics of your friends' kids in the trash.

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Mad Rose pushes back opening, offers sneak peek (Photos)

February 16, 2011 - 02:53 PM
Mad Rose Tavern
Mad Rose Tavern is hoping to open Thursday. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Despite the fact that just yesterday, Mad Rose Tavern in Clarendon heralded tonight's grand opening on Facebook, they're going to delay opening their doors for at least one more day.

They're planning to open Thursday instead of today to make sure everything's in order, General Manager Seamus Phillips told TBD photographer Jay Westcott when he got an early look at the place today.

Check out Jay's photos of Mad Rose Tavern's spacious bars and dining room after the jump.

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DC9 to resume full hours after all restrictions lifted

February 16, 2011 - 02:10 PM
DC9 will be open for full business hours every day starting tonight. (Photo: Samuel Corum)

Starting at 5 p.m. this evening, operations at U Street-area nightclub DC9 will be as close to normal as they've ever been since the Oct. 15 death of Ali Ahmed Mohammed.

In a brief hearing Wednesday, the District's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board voted unanimously to lift all remaining restrictions on the bar, which has been forced to pay for a mandatory reimbursable police detail since they reopened in December.

Co-owner Bill Spieler, back at the helm of the nightclub for the last month, says he'll resume regular operating hours immediately, and will stay open until 2 a.m. tonight. He's been closing at 11 p.m. on weeknights for the last month in order to minimize costs associated with the police detail. Food service will come back eventually, too, though that will take a while longer.

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American Tap Room looks to tweak Sette Bello space

February 16, 2011 - 01:53 PM
Future American Tap Room site
American Tap Room is moving into this site across from Clarendon Metro. (Photo: TBD Staff)

With American Tap Room opening its newest location right across from the Clarendon Metro station, you wouldn't think they'd be too worried about the business there.

But given the failure of Sette Bello, the former restaurant in the same space, and stiff competition in the Clarendon market,  American Tap Room vice president for development Sean O'Quinn says the company will look to increase visibility of the restaurant space there.

The Tap Room's application for outdoor seating was approved by the Arlington County Board Feb. 15, and the company is applying to make other changes to the interior of the space at 3101 Wilson Boulevard. They're hoping to be open in May or June.

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Borders bankruptcy: D.C. stores closing, Silver Spring's spared

February 16, 2011 - 01:20 PM
(Courtesy of Borders)

It's been well-documented by now that Borders has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and plans to close 200 of its stores, including its K Street NW and Friendship Heights locations in D.C. But what's not on that list [PDF] of closing stores? The one in Downtown Silver Spring.

That's a huge sigh of relief to Silver Spring residents who have been worried for years over the potential closure of one of the principal anchors of Downtown Silver Spring. But all may not be well and good forever — bankruptcy procedures are a fluid, tricky thing, so who is to say that Silver Spring may not get the axe further down the line?

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Parking meter fees to increase in Arlington (Poll)

February 16, 2011 - 10:32 AM
Parking Meter

Get out your quarters, Arlington: The county’s proposed budget for next year includes increasing parking meter fees. Starting in July, an hour at most of the county’s meters could cost you $1.25, 25 cents more than today’s going rate. 

The increase— which for long-term meters means a change from $0.75 to $1 — is expected to raise an additional $1.7 million for the county’s coffers.

Members of the public will have a chance to weigh in on the idea during FY 2012 budget hearings scheduled for March 24.

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Panera coming to DCUSA, not Adams Morgan (Update)

February 16, 2011 - 09:58 AM
Panera's many bagel options will be avaliable in Columbia Heights in the fall. (Image: Courtesy of Panera)

Update 9:41 a.m. We figured we'd share another tidbit of Panera news: company spokeswoman Dyani Hanrahan confirms the Columbia Heights restaurant will open in the storefront sandwiched between Panda Express and IHOP along Irving Street NW.

So far, Panera hasn't been treated to the same public excitement that officials had ahead of IHOP's November 2010 opening. But who knows, maybe they'll don Panera green aprons and serve bagels on opening day?

Update, Feb. 14, 4:30 p.m. Could Cosi be coming to the former Adams Mill Bar & Grill instead of Panera? Nope, at least not according to Cosi.

Richard Pawlowski, owner of the Cosi franchise in D.C., tells TBD that they have no plans to open in the Adams Morgan location, "although we are actively looking for sites in the district. We hope to have an announcement about a new location soon."

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Walmart's Ward 6 plans: The best we're going to get?

February 16, 2011 - 09:34 AM
Image courtesy Walmart

Yvonne Williams sits on the Board of Trustees for Bible Way Church and lives in an apartment building next door to the proposed New Jersey Avenue Walmart. She says, "we've been praying for food in this neighborhood for 40 years."

John Lee, owner of Corner Market at 4th and East Capitol streets NE, says he's "scared right now with Walmart coming in," and worries the mega-retailer could drive him out of the business where he's invested everything he's had.

And then there's Larry Greenhill, Jr., a frustrated out-of-work union electrician "watching all of these projects go up" and wanting to ensure that those hired to build the Walmart and work inside of it are paid a livable wage.

There's plenty to say about the Walmart going up at 801 New Jersey Ave. NW, but that doesn't mean there's any leverage to speak of in forcing the company to meet community demands.

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Impulse Buys: Valentine's Day candy

February 15, 2011 - 05:00 PM
Heart-shaped candy tastes the same on Feb. 15 as it does on Feb. 14. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Snapshots of the wild, weird, and wonderful things you can buy in the D.C. area.

Product: York Peppermint Pattie hearts.

Tagline: “Get the sensation!”

Available at: CVS, 3031 14th St. NW., Columbia Heights.

Cost: $1.75 (with a 50 percent discount).

Why you might want it: Candy tastes the same whether it’s heart-shaped or not, so why deprive yourself of perfectly good chocolate simply because it's Feb. 15?

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Hawks landing in D.C. neighborhoods (Photo)

February 15, 2011 - 03:36 PM
A hawk visited LeDroit Park twice over the weekend to feast on some fat rats. (Image: Courtesy of Jim Barrett)

This post has been updated to include information from the Washington Humane Society.

Jim Barrett went out on his deck on Saturday morning just to feel how cold it was outside. And then he saw it: sitting there, in an alley off of 6th Street NW between T Street and Florida Avenue, was a hawk. A hawk eating a rat.

Barrett and other neighbors went in and out of their homes to snap photos of the hawk perched on a fence in the alley, but all that movement predictably scared it. The hawk took off before finishing its meal, leaving behind a mangled rat carcass. (Perhaps we should have warned you that eating lunch while reading this post is a bad idea).

"We've got some pretty bold rats back there," Barrett says. "I wouldn’t say we’re infested but we do have too many neighbors that don’t put lids on their trash cans, and you can see the rats going in and out...  And our [rats] are really fat. I’ve lived in D.C. for 14 years and these are the biggest ones I’ve seen."

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Mad Rose Tavern opens Wed. in Clarendon

February 15, 2011 - 02:46 PM
Mad Rose
Mad Rose Tavern's site next to Clarendon Metro. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Mad Rose Tavern, Clarendon's newest watering hole, opens to the public Wednesday night, a manager at the bar and restaurant tells TBD.

Inside, the large bar and restaurant showed all the signs of last minute preparations this afternoon: tons of bustling staff, constant deliveries, and a crew making the place official by adding the Mad Rose Tavern name to the awning out front.

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Four CaBi stations in Rosslyn, Courthouse coming in March

February 15, 2011 - 12:32 PM

View Proposed CaBi Station location at Courthouse Metro in a larger map

Folks in Rosslyn and Courthouse who have been waiting with bated breath for Capital Bikeshare's shiny red bikes to pop up in their neighborhoods won't have to wait much longer. Locations for the first four stations in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor — which stretch from Rosslyn to the Courthouse Metro — have been all but finalized, as People-Powered Arlington first reported, and installation will begin in mid-March.

What's more, Capital Bikeshare should have 16 stations installed in the corridor stretching all the way to Ballston by sometime this spring, according to Paul DeMaio of Metrobike, a consultant for Arlington working on the program.

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Arlington inches toward Route 110 trail

February 15, 2011 - 09:14 AM
Route 110 trail
Arlington just approved a state grant for the Route 110 trail, shown here on a county map as priority number five on a master list of trail priorities. (Courtesy Arlington County.)

Arlington County’s bike and trail advocates are known for having a lengthy wish list for trails and trail connections they’d like to see completed. (One of them has gone as far as to call Arlington’s ever expanding trail network “an embarrassment of riches”.)

Well, the cyclists got some more good news last week, as the county moved on another of the items on that wish list: the Route 110 trail. Arlington County Board approved almost $250,000 in grant funding Feb. 12 to construct the half mile stretch along the highway that will connect the Pentagon and the Columbia Pike corridor to Memorial Bridge.

This is the first installment of funding that will largely go toward the construction of the project, according to David Goodman, Arlington's bicycle and pedestrian programs manager.

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Pepco preparing for possible outages today

February 14, 2011 - 03:11 PM

If you're worried about those high winds in today's forecast knocking out your power, does knowing that Pepco is also worried make you feel any better?

"Pepco is prepared in the event tree limbs and branches fall on utility wires causing possible power outages," reads a press release. The utility also announced that it will be holding extra crews over for the evening shift, including some contractors. But Pepco won't be calling out-of-state mutual assistance crews just yet. (And sometimes calling those crews in can be a total crap shoot).

Despite the fallout over the Jan. 26 thundersnow power outages, we should note that Pepco took only a couple of hours to restore power to the less than 2,000 customers who lost it Feb. 8 when winds reached 40 mph.

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Wag More Dogs' mural deadline April 1?

February 14, 2011 - 02:43 PM

Last week's federal court ruling tossing out Wag More Dogs' First Amendment case against Arlington County has started the clock on the mural's removal — or transformation, as Wag More Dogs owner Kim Houghton sees fit.

What does that mean for the mural depicting colorful dogs, paws, and dog bones? It'll probably stay covered with a tarp, for now. But some semblance of a deadline looms: Hougton told county officials last year, before she took her case to court, that she would notify about how she planned to make the mural legal under Arlington County code by April 1, 2011.

Houghton paid $4,000 last year to have the mural painted on the side of her dog grooming and boarding business in Shirlington, but the county found that the painting constituted an illegal commercial sign. She plans to appeal the Feb. 11 ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia dismissing her case. How that will affect her April 1 deadline, however, she's not sure.

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Library services cut short during new system installation

February 14, 2011 - 10:39 AM
Arlington Library
Arlington Library is getting a spiffy new online catalog, so bear with them this week during the transition. (Photo: TBD Staff)

Work on the Arlington Public Libary's new catalog system began yesterday, which means that access to the catalog, as well as several other services and functions, will be unavailable for the next few days. All branches of the library will remain open according to their normal schedules, but the library's central catalog will not be accessible.

The hold system will not be functioning either, and holds "in transit" when the system was shut down yesterday won't be available until Feb. 20. The library also won't have the ability to notify customers of available holds by phone for the next few weeks. The library's E-book downloading system also won't be available until after the upgrade is complete.

Patrons have a grace period for materials currently checked out, however; nothing checked out is due until Feb. 28. Library staff is hoping to complete the upgrade by the end of this week.

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Pepco's apology tour: How much did it cost?

February 11, 2011 - 05:09 PM
Pepco ran full-page apology ads in Washington-area newspapers this week. (Photo: TBD Staff)

A big part of Pepco's latest apology tour is an attempt to make you feel less frustrated by letting you know they know you're frustrated. Aside from appearing before angry public officials to bow their heads in shame, they're doing much of that apologizing through ads. Full-page ads, more specifically, in the The Washington Post and the Washington Examiner this week, and in Express, The Gazette, and Northwest Current next week.

"All we wanted to do is to talk to the customers, and [the ads] were a cost effective way," Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey says.

According to Hainey, the total cost of those five print ads came out to $96,700. He estimates a direct mailing to customers would have cost much more, $278,000. Oh, and he insists that $96K isn't coming out of its customers pockets.

“It’s not rate payer money. This is going to come from the shareholders,” says Hainey. “The rate payer will never feel this.”

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Elderly rape victims speak out

February 11, 2011 - 12:08 PM
Elderly victims
Two elderly women prepare to speak to reporters about being raped. (Photo: TBD Staff)

In June, a man broke into a 68-year-old woman’s Germantown apartment in the middle of the night and raped her. Two months later, it happened to an 86-year-old woman living across the street. Then in January, a man broke into the home of the June victim and attempted to rape her again. Police believe the same man committed all three crimes.

Today those two elderly victims met each other for the first time at Montgomery County Police headquarters as they spoke about the crimes to room packed full of reporters in an effort to get the case solved and bring closure.

Their names and identities are not being revealed so as to protect them, but they certainly didn’t mince any words.

“I’m determined to do everything I can to make sure this arrogant little twerp never does this again,” said the woman attacked in June and January, who is now 69.

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