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One year after a plan to open at 128 N. Pitt Street seemingly fell through, hyper-popular D.C. bagel shop Call Your Mother Deli says an Alexandria location in Old Town is back on the menu.

Currently, “somewhere” is the best the company can say for the exact location, but a store representative ruled out one location: 128 N. Pitt Street.

“Call Your Mother’s second VA location will be in Alexandria / the historic Old Town district, but it will not be at 128 N. Pitt Street,” said Carly Connor, a public relations manager with a firm representing Call Your Mother Deli, in an email.

Connor said the aim is to open sometime this summer.

“The lease is not yet final,” Connor said, “but it’s looking like mid-summer for the opening!”

The news came alongside an announcement that a new location will also be opening in McLean.

Photo via Call Your Mother/Facebook

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No arrests were made after shots were reported in the 600 block of S. Fayette Street on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 (via Google Maps)

No one was injured or arrested after a report of gunfire in Old Town on Tuesday.

The incident occurred at around 5:25 p.m. in the 600 block of S. Fayette Street, which is near Alexandria National Cemetery.

Police received multiple emergency calls of one shot fired, and two suspects allegedly fleeing the scene. APD reportedly recovered a discarded rifle and live rounds, although would not comment on the recovery.

The incident remains under investigation, and anyone with can call the APD non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. Callers can remain anonymous.

Map via Google Maps

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A VRE train crosses a bridge over King Street (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated 12:35 p.m.) Virginia Railway Express (VRE) trains were stopped last night after a vehicle struck the bridge over King Street — again.

The delay is the latest in a string of incidents that have led authorities to recommend full replacement of the bridge.

Train service was closed for roughly two hours, from 4:50-7 p.m. with train traffic backed up and delayed as a result.

According to an alert from VRE:

Train traffic was stopped in both directions this evening at Alexandria due to a vehicle striking the railroad bridge over King Street. The bridge needed to be checked by a CSX bridge inspector before traffic was released. This created a lengthy delay for passengers on both VRE lines. Northbound train 338 which turns at Union Station to be the final southbound Manassas Line train was unable to go past Alexandria, so we turned it at Alexandria to head back to Broad Run. The railroad was reopened just before 7 pm with 6 VRE trains and 3 Amtrak trains stacked between Crystal City and Union Station.

We apologize to everyone inconvenienced by this delay.

As a result of both its age and repeated battery by stuck vehicles, the bridge has shown troubling signs of decay in recent years, prompting emergency road closures to make repairs.

Authorities have said the 120-year-old bridge does not meet current height requirements and a full replacement is the only permanent solution. Once a design is chosen, construction is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2024 and continue until midway through 2026.

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Meet Senor Pug, an 8-year-old pug with expressive eyes who is searching for his forever home.

He is currently up for adoption at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

His squishy face and curly tail with expressive eyes makes for a unique appearance, according to AWLA spokesperson Erin Shackelford.

“Senor Pug can be anxious and timid in new situations and around new people, said Shackelford. “He’s looking for someone who can patiently give him the time he needs to adjust.”

Once in his new home, Senor Pug needs a safe space.

As an older gentleman, he is pretty calm and more than happy to just hang out with his new best friend (you)!

Learn more about Senor Pug by reading his complete profile! Schedule a time to meet Senor Pug by emailing [email protected] or call 703-746-4774.

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(Updated at 11:45 a.m.) The Alexandria Police Department will be rolling out new technology and putting more officers on the streets to combat rising gun-related crimes.

Assistant Police Chief Easton McDonald presented this plan, unofficially named “Operation Cease Fire,” to the City Council on Tuesday.

After working from home and limiting their exposure to the public during the pandemic, APD says its officers will be going back out into communities now that the public health crisis in the rearview mirror and in response to rising crimes involving guns.

“Robberies are up 30%,” McDonald told Council. “Robberies are up because guns are used in those robberies. Today’s law enforcement and executives need precision policing tools to maximize efficiency and promote more positive community engagement.”

One hurdle for the department, however, is minimal staffing. There are more than 300 officers within APD and the department is currently short nine positions, with officers on medical leave and a number in the field training offices.

Police Chief Don Hayes says this situation will improve after the current class of 20 trainees finishes the police academy.

Another tactic for stepping up a police presence, without that staffing, could be the use of gun detection technology. “Operation Cease Fire” will use acoustic sensors to pinpoint the location of gunfire and differentiate between similar sounds, like a car backfiring. No timeline was presented for the program.

“This will tell law enforcement where the shots are coming from with an accuracy of approximately 25 meters,” McDonald said. “We can get a published time within 60 seconds, which means a confirmation on whether it was a gun, a car backfire or something else. This will strategically reduce gun violence in the City of Alexandria and prevent further loss of life.”

There were six homicides last year, up from two in 2021. Robberies rose 30% (108 incidents in 2022), larcenies increased 7% (2,593 incidents) and Auto thefts jumped 18% (315 incidents). Aggravated assaults are the only Part I crime statistic that fell, going down 29% (172 incidents).

Additionally, destruction of property/vandalism incidents climbed 13% in 2022, with 1,320 incidents reported. Drugs and narcotics offenses also climbed 53% (295 incidents), drunkenness increased 17% (344 incidents) and driving under the influence incidents rose 10% (344 incidents).

McDonald said that officers will be spending less time in their cruisers, which will allow them to talk to residents and business owners in communities.

“There are a lot of new officers that need to introduce themselves to the community and people,” he said. “What you’ll begin to see are officers that will… get out of the car, talk to people, meet people, go into the businesses, talk to the businesses, look at crime prevention issues, like the bushes are too tall.”

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Good Thursday morning, Alexandria!

🌤 Today’s weather: Clear throughout the day. High of 53 and low of 41.
Tomorrow: Rain in the evening and overnight. High of 65 and low of 42. Sunrise at 6:56 am and sunset at 7:31 pm.

🚨 You need to know

Alexandria Living Magazine first reported that reopening signs are up in the windows of Del Ray Italian restaurant Rosemarino D’Italia (1905 Mt Vernon Avenue).

The restaurant closed the doors of the Del Ray location in July 2021 due to lingering challenges from the Covid pandemic. While the Del Ray location closed, the one in Dupont Circle in D.C. remained open.

Now, signs in the window say the restaurant is coming back. No opening date is posted on the signs or on the restaurant’s social media.

Patch reported in December that the restaurant could have a soft reopening in the Spring, with a revamped interior and a new menu that will initially match the Dupont location, but will eventually branch off into something different.

Image via Rosemarino D’Italia/Facebook

📈 Wednesday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Mar 29, 2023.

  1. City of Alexandria lays out power plant demolition plans and uncertainties (1185 views)
  2. Alexandria Police Department wants all officers to wear body-worn cameras by January (781 views)
  3. Notes: Alexandria launches new composting pilot program for city residents (223 views)
  4. Old Town Business Improvement District finishing March with 2/3 of the support it needs (124 views)

🗞 Other local coverage

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

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As plans for what will replace the Potomac River Generating Station in Old Town North gradually take shape, the city is still working through the specifics of how exactly to tear down the building.

Deputy Director for Infrastructure and Environmental Quality Bill Skrabak said in a presentation yesterday to the Alexandria Local Emergency Planning Committee — full disclosure, this reporter is a member of that committee — that rather than one big demolition the building will most likely be taken apart piece by piece.

“They’re going to be cutting up the big metal pieces with cranes and demolishing it, hauling it out on trucks and salvaging as much metal as they can,” Skrabak said. “Once the buildings get down to the ground, that’s when they would shift to remediation and soils.”

Skrabak also said there’s still work to be done to determine just how contaminated the soil at the site is. There are two large underground oil tanks at the property, at least one of which leaked around 2013. A remediation project was ongoing from 2016-2019 for that leak, but that remediation was to the standard of an industrial site, not a residential one like what’s proposed.

Beyond just those two tanks, though, Skrabak said there are other smaller tanks buried around the site that could contain chemicals.

One concern raised in the public comment at the meeting by nearby residents is that it’s still unclear just how contaminated the soil is at the site.

“We don’t have a gosh darn idea what’s underneath that building,” One resident said. “All the soil sampling and water sampling has been done in relatively benign areas but we have no clue what’s underneath that building. But here we are looking at how Hilco is going to approach this with what seems to be a pretty risk-tolerant position.”

But Skrabak said there’s a logic to demolishing the building before doing extensive testing on the soil.

“They will be doing an abatement to remove the contaminants before they demolish the buildings but you can’t do the remediation until the buildings are gone,” Skrabak said. “They’ll have to do additional samples once the building is gone.”

Skrabak said the soil will be sealed or covered when it’s transported away from the site in trucks.

“There are state requirements during construction for that material; they have to do the best job they can to reduce the amount of pollution as best they can,” Skrabak said. “There are certain structures they have to have, like the installation of a silt fence. What we try to do, when they’re excavating contaminated soils… we want them to get it in a container and into a truck and not have a big stockpile of contaminated soil sitting at the site for weeks.”

While Skrabak also said there’s no risk of runoff flowing back into neighborhoods, the same can’t be said for contaminants making their way into the Potomac River during demolition and construction. As locals have discovered in recent years, heavy rainfall can cause overflow to many stormwater management systems.

“Depending upon the level of issues, typically they have a sediment basin where they try to filter as much of that and let it settle before it gets discharged,” Skrabak said. “I do want to forewarn people, it’s not possible to have that level of disturbance and not have some dirt and mud. They’ll have a basin and settling tanks before it gets discharged, but if you have a large event it bypasses the filter.”

That demolition is still at least a year way. Alexandria Living Magazine reported in November that Hilco Redevelopment Partners confirmed the demolition of the power plant won’t start until mid-2024 at the earliest.

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Lower King Street, closed to traffic (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The team behind the proposed Old Town Business Improvement District (BID) is giving itself a few more months to get the project the support it needs.

Per new guidelines approved by the City Council last year, the BID proposal will need support from 60% of the properties within the district’s boundaries, which mostly runs along King Street.

Back in February, a city-hired lawyer working with the BID proponents said they would need to have those votes of support in the bag by mid-March to get the proposal on this year’s budget. That March deadline would have allowed the city to include the budget in public hearings in April before budget approval on May 3.

But as of Wednesday, March 29, the proposal doesn’t have quite the amount of support it needs.

“The timeline is now the end of May (May 31),” said Maurisa Potts, founder and CEO of Spotted MP Marketing and Public Relations. “We are 2/3 of the way to getting the 60% of the votes. We are extending our public meetings over the next few weeks.”

While that end-of-May timeline misses the cut-off for the FY 2024 budget, the potential for an Old Town BID has come up multiple times in City Hall meetings, from budget workshops to yesterday’s City Council meeting.

At a budget work session last week, City Council members expressed concerns about empty storefronts in Old Town. Alexandria Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Stephanie Landrum said those concerns are an issue that would be best addressed by a BID.

According to Landrum:

What you see on King Street is not what the stats would tell you. While we see vacancies, many of those vacancies are already leased. There’s a long period of time between when somebody closes  and when the new place opens, but it’s technically only vacant for a short period of time. Someone comes in and they have go through the permitting process, they have to do their marketing,  hiring etc. Most of the vacancies around City Hall are spoken for, they’re not vacant…

Many years ago we proposed a program where we would put a sign in the window like ‘coming soon’. What we found was that the money spent and the effort spent to get a permit in place to put up a temporary sign didn’t really support that effort. We have talked through this before.

This work is a lot of what a Business Improvement Districts do and they’re better equipped to move at the kind of speed in real time and they would coordinate things like that. When you go to other parts of this region and you likely see this sort of stuff, usually it’s done by a BID.

Landrum was backed up by City Manager Jim Parajon, who said successful BIDs can create a tangible sales tax increase.

“In my experience with BIDs, you’ll see a relatively strong sales tax rate increase and you’ll also see an appreciation in the values of the property,” Parajon said. “Those are two things I’ve seen consistently in a well-put-together BID.”

At a City Council meeting last night, it was noted that the Waterfront Commission had previously endorsed the proposed BID.

Old Town Business, which has been spearheading the BID effort, announced a series of virtual public meetings this week and throughout April.

According to the website, those meetings are scheduled for:

  • Thursday, March 30: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 6: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 13: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Thursday, April 20: 6:30-7:30 p.m.
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Body-worn camera (photo via Tony Webster/Flickr)

The Alexandria Police Department will start rolling out its body worn camera program next month but it won’t be until next January that all the department’s officers are wearing them.

Thirty cameras will be deployed to officers on April 17, according to a staff presentation to City Council on Tuesday night.

“On April 17, we will begin our first deployments and will continue until every commander, supervisor and officer in this department is wearing a body worn camera,” APD lieutenant Jason North told Council. “We decided to be very strategic and intentional with the deployments. We will start on April 17 with 30 users. Of those 30 users, we will make that representative of our police department, which is 60% field operations, 30% investigations and 10% administration.”

Every month, 30 more cameras will be given to officers. Training takes eight hours and afterward, officers will then “go live” with them, North said. With more than 300 officers in the department, full deployment won’t be finished until January.

City Manager Jim Parajon said that the rollout of the cameras allows for the city to adapt to their use.

“Every time we add body worn cameras, we will have the appropriate support personnel to put a video and be able to go all the way through a process that’s been intentionally designed that way,” Parajon said.

City Council approved $2 million for the program in the current budget, including five new attorneys with the Commonwealth Attorney’s office to handle the footage. Parajon’s FY 2024 budget proposal includes three more positions totaling $258,000, as well as three “contingency” positions for $288,000 depending on the outcome of a workload analysis. Additionally, Parajon is asking for a one-time payment of $97,000 to upgrade the Alexandria Circuit Court’s information technology services.

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Good Wednesday morning, Alexandria!

Today’s weather: Partly cloudy throughout the day. High of 57 and low of 37.
🌤 Tomorrow: Clear throughout the day. High of 53 and low of 37. Sunrise at 6:57 am and sunset at 7:30 pm.

🚨 You need to know

The city of Alexandria has launched a new pilot that will help make it easier for some city residents to turn food scraps into compost.

The new curbside food waste composting collection pilot will allow residents in up to 2,000 households to place items like fruit, vegetable scraps, meat and bones into a dedicated food waste collection bin.

According to the project website:

Residents will be able to place items such as fruit and vegetable scraps, meat, and bones in a dedicated bin for food waste collection instead of putting food waste in the trash.

The City will subsidize the cost of supplies and collection for the first six months. Pilot participants will be encouraged to provide feedback to the City through a monthly feedback form sent to residents via email. After six months, residents may continue service with the vendor for a monthly or annual subscription fee.

Residents can register for the pilot online and, if they’re picked, they’ll receive the first six months of services along with a start-up kit for free.

According to the site:

Selected participants will separate food waste from trash, just as we already do with our recyclables, and leave the composting bin by the curb on the designated day of the week. The City contracts with Compost Crew to manage the program, who will provide weekly collection services along with addressing issues such as delivery of the containers and missed collections. Each household can request on Compost Crew’s customer portal for a complimentary bag of finished compost if desired, once a year.

Image via Lenka Dzurendova/Unsplash

📈 Tuesday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Mar 28, 2023.

  1. Notes: Driver killed in Beltway crash near Alexandria (1942 views)
  2. Housing Alexandria breaking ground on new Arlandria affordable housing development this summer (879 views)
  3. Walgreens redevelopment in Old Town headed to city review (706 views)
  4. Alexandria bomb threat suspect was found guilty for similar offense in 2016 (612 views)

🗞 Other local coverage

🐦 Tweets of note

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

  • No events today. Have one to promote? Submit it to the calendar.
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