Alexandria environmental planning staff say that the stream restoration at Taylor Run is necessary to combat the effects of climate change and improve flooding conditions.
On Tuesday night, staff from the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services and city consultants held a Zoom meeting to discuss the proposed $4.5 million restoration of the 1,900-foot-long project. The project falls within the city’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL Action Plan to reduce pollution, and staff say the area is experiencing the effects of climate change.
“We’re seeing more frequent storms,” said Jesse Maines, the stormwater management division chief for T&ES. “We actually walked the stream last weekend and you can see trees that were… falling into the stream with green leaves. What we’re talking about with this project is not only water quality we’re talking about water quantity and really stabilizing the stream so we don’t get just this continual degradation of the stream. We’re just seeing that it’s being continually impacted especially with climate change.”
Staff’s plan to clear the waterway near T.C. Williams High School and Chinquapin Park will result in the removal of 269 trees, of which they say 22% are dead.
“The City anticipates re-planting 2,280 trees for this stream restoration including oaks, maples, dogwoods, and sycamores,” according to the City’s stream restoration page. “An additional 7,200 shrubs are expected to be planted which include buttonbush, winterberry, and spicebush.”
Mayor Justin Wilson said that the city was successful in getting $2.255 million in grant funds from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) to “restore a badly-neglected and rare natural stream.”
“This effort will plant over 2,300 new trees, in perhaps the largest single tree planting initiative in recent City history,” Wilson told ALXnow. “This project is designed to increase and improve natural open space, reduce human impact and improve water quality. I look forward to engaging with our residents so that we can improve our stewardship of these natural spaces.”
The meeting did not alleviate the concerns of a local group led by former Vice Mayor Andrew MacDonald.
MacDonald, who chairs the Environmental Council of Alexandria, wants the city to meet with their advisor John Field, a fluvial geomorphologist and stream restoration expert. ECA has also started a GoFundMe campaign to pay Field $5,000.
“(John Field) understands what happens to streams when you manipulate and try to restore them,” MacDonald told ALXnow. “His preliminary view is that the City doesn’t really know what it is doing.”
City staff will soon release a Survey Monkey comment/response table, and the public comment period will end on October 23. Staff said that the next public meeting on the subject will be in November.
Photos via City of Alexandria