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Presentation on RAISE Planning Grant application (image via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria wants federal help to make the stretch of Seminary Road northwest of I-395 safer.

The City Council is slated to review a grant application to the United States Department of Transportation for the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant program for up to $1 million to conduct a planning study on Seminary Road between Library Lane and North Beauregard Street — right in front of Southern Towers.

“Nearly all of the intersections along this segment of the Seminary Road corridor have been identified for safety enhancements as part of the Vision Zero program, Safe Routes to School Walk Audits, community feedback, and the Alex West planning process,” the memo from Adriana Castaneda, director of Transportation and Environmental Services, said. “These intersections cannot be addressed in isolation; a more holistic assessment of the corridor is needed to determine how to mitigate the issues and understand their impact on traffic.”

The memo said the goals of the new transportation plan would be promoting alternative modes of transportation, such as walking, biking and public transit, along with improving accessibility and reducing congestion.

The planning would also include a traffic study, analysis and design alternatives for the Seminary Road interchange.

The grant requires a 20% local match for a maximum of $200,000 from the city. The city is offering to make a 25% match of $250,000 to make the proposal more competitive.

“The City anticipates fulfilling this requirement with developer contributions previously secured for this area,” the memo said.

The grant application is scheduled for a vote at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27.

The memo notes that the funds awarded through the grant must be obligated by September 2028 and fully spent by September 2033.

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Here’s your weekly look at the events, live music, and entertainment that are happening around Alexandria this weekend; enjoy! 

Are you organizing an event? Submit events to ALXnow.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23

THINGS TO DO

LIVE MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT

CITY OF ALEXANDRIA EVENTS

  • No events are scheduled.

Read More

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From left: Adrien Lopez, Allison Silberberg, Jim Good, Senator Louise Lucas, Andrew Macdonald, John Patrick and Boyd Walker. The caption on the cake reads “Senator Louise Lucas chomps the GlennDome” (photo courtesy Allison Silberberg)

While pro-Potomac Yard arena advocates and lobbyists are making the rounds in Richmond, a group of locals are also knocking on doors in the legislature fighting against the arena.

Former Mayor Allison Silberberg joined others from the Coalition to Stop the Potomac Yard Arena in Richmond

Silberberg said the group has been traveling to Richmond by the busload to meet with legislators and senior staff.

“The Coalition to Stop the Arena is a grassroots effort,” Silberberg said. “It’s regular residents who are trying to raise strong concerns about traffic impacts that cannot be dismissed with a traffic study.”

Silberberg said the group’s two main concerns are transportation and the risk to the Commonwealth of Virginia if the arena fails to meet certain financial goals. Alexandria and Virginia could be on the hook for the $1 billion on public bonds to fund the project if spending and tax revenue don’t meet expectations.

The Coalition’s activism comes at a perilous time for the arena deal. There’s been some positive news about the arena — GMU released a study showing it could be a boon for workforce housing — but most of the arena headlines have been negative, from labor unions uniting in opposition to the arena plans to Sen. Louise Lucas removing the arena plans from a hearing in the Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee.

Silberberg said the reception in Richmond has been “diverse” depending on who the group has spoken to, but so far all of the meetings have been cordial.

Silberberg said most in the group are not opposed to development in Potomac Yard, but that they want to see the area emerge as a technology corridor like the new Virginia Tech campus, the plans Silberberg said were discussed in city leadership before the announcement of the Potomac Yard arena.

“It’s a big deal for all of us to take time from work and family to go down there, but it’s a huge issue that would affect our beloved city,” Silberberg said. “We are up against huge money and huge forces.”

The last day of the legislative session is March 9.

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A group of Black Alexandrians at Jones Point in 1897 (image via Alexandria Black History Museum)

Near the end of Black History Month, Agenda Alexandria is bringing together a panel to discuss Black Alexandrians who helped shape the history of the city.

The talk, called “Resilience and Legacy: Unveiling Alexandria’s Black History” will highlight those who struggled against slavery and Jim Crow-era discrimination.

The panel, scheduled for Monday, Feb. 26, will be moderated by Agenda Alexandria Board Member and President of the Alexandria Branch of the NAACP Darrlynn Franklin.

Panelists will include:

  • Audrey Davis: director of the African American History division of the Office of Historic Alexandria
  • Octavia Stanton Caldwell: associate pastor of outreach at Shiloh Baptist Church
  • Krystyn Moon: professor at the Department of History and American Studies at University of Mary Washington

The panel discussion will start at 7 p.m. at the Lyceum (201 S Washington Street).

Tickets are $10 for non-Agenda Alexandria members and the talk can be viewed in person at the Lyceum or online.

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Alexandria City Council candidate Charlotte Scherer (staff photo by James Cullum)

ALXnow will be running a series of City Council candidate interviews through the local election filing deadline on April 4.

Alexandria City Council candidate Charlotte Scherer is running to be Alexandria’s first transgender City Councilor and is one of the few candidates firmly against the Potomac Yard arena deal.

Like her City Council opponents in the Democratic primary, Scherer is focusing her campaign on housing affordability, transparency and fully funding the Metro and city school systems. Unlike many of them, however, she is firmly against the $2 billion Potomac Yard arena deal, and stands with labor unions in their opposition.

“I stand firmly against the construction of the arena, primarily due to the considerable public investment and resources it requires,” Scherer said. “The prospect of creating 30,000 jobs loses its appeal when it becomes apparent that only a minority will (be offered) a living wage.”

Scherer continued, “The expected influx of tens of thousands of commuters from Maryland and the District on event nights will become a permanent feature of our lives.”

In the last three years, the former attorney and Alexandria magistrate said goodbye to her previous identity and changed her name to Charlotte Achelois Scherer. She also became the first trans member on the city’s Commission for Women.

“Alexandria is really facing a housing affordability crisis,” she told ALXnow. “Near 40% of people in Alexandria are paying more than a third of their gross income just to pay the mortgage or the rent. Something needs to be done about it.” 

In her campaign announcement to the Alexandria Democratic Committee (ADC), Scherer said that she had to undergo a journey within herself over the last several years.

“I came out to my wife in 2021 as transgender, and the first thing she said to me was, ‘We’re going to get through this,’ and we did,” Scherer said. “I didn’t even realize at the time just what kind of journey I was undertaking then, just beginning two-and-a-half years ago.”

Scherer says that she got multiple facial reconstructive surgeries and trained with a speech therapist to remodulate her voice. She says she paid for the surgeries from a large settlement from the Catholic Church in a case alleging sexual abuse against her when she was a child.

Scherer also admitted to getting a DUI in Howard County, Tennessee, in 2013. She says that therapy helped her to stop problematic drinking and eventually embrace her new identity.

“But for the DUI ten years ago, I would not have sought out therapy,” she said. “Without therapy, I would not have acknowledged the abuse that happened to me as a young child. Without speaking about that, I never would have received compensation. And compensation gave me the means of becoming who I truly am.”

Scherer has a law degree from the University of Florida. She says she tried about 60 cases as a public defender in Fort Myers, and is now studying online to get a Master’s Degree in psychology from Harvard University.

Scherer also unsuccessfully ran for a County Commissioner seat in Florida as a Republican in 2004. A Tampa Bay native, she says that the culture there leans Republican, and that she became a Democrat after moving to the D.C. area in 2011 to work as a contract attorney on legal teams negotiating mergers. She became a member of the ADC in 2015, after which Scherer and her future wife moved to the Braddock area, where they still live today.

On May 31, 2022, Scherer was arrested for trespassing inside Madison Street Tattoo (1012 Madison Street), which is within walking distance from her apartment. It was Memorial Day and Scherer had been asking for a Georgia O’Keefe-styled orchid tattoo for months from the shop, but was previously told via email that the service was unavailable. When the conversation with the manager intensified, shop owner Danny Zelsman left the customer he was tattooing and asked Scherer to leave.

“At that point, my manager said that she felt uncomfortable with the proximity of Ms. Scherer to her and that she was making us uncomfortable,” Zelsman recalled. “And Ms. Scherer slammed her fist down on the table and said, ‘You’re making me uncomfortable,’ at which point she sat down on the bench and refused to get up and leave, despite me saying that the police were coming.”

Scherer says that she refused to leave out of an act of civil disobedience.

“Madison Street Tattoos cannot deny they denied me service,” Scherer said. “I am absolutely convinced I did the right thing. A peaceful sit-down protest in the face of discriminatory actions.”

Scherer had been trying to get the tattoo for several months, but was told in an email in March that the traveling artist Madison Street Tattoo used for such work had recently parted ways with the business. The manager apologized and provided Scherer with the artist’s contact information, according to emails provided to ALXnow.

In one email, Scherer wrote, “Madison Street Tattoos made a promise to me four months ago — that’s what an appointment is, a promise. I don’t have an Instagram account, and I’m not going to set one up just to get blown off/brushed off/ignored again. I’m trans, I get kicked around enough.”

The trespassing charges were later dropped when Zelsman and Scherer signed an agreement where, in exchange for no charges, Scherer would not step within 1,000 feet of the business, disparage it in any way or take any legal action against it.

Zelsman said that Scherer should not hold public office.

“I certainly wouldn’t want to see this person in a position of power that’s dictating the way other people would live,” he said. “The level of calm and rationale that was not expressed here, in a moment of being rejected for a service that we don’t provide is really small potatoes. If that is the way you behave when you are dismissed by someone that’s just trying to run a small business and contribute to this community in some way, how is it gonna play out when you’re in City Council and making real decisions that really affect other people?”

Scherer said she’s focused on working hard to win her self-funded campaign, and that she’s seeking no endorsements.

“I am running to make Alexandria a better place,” Scherer said. “And I will always do the right thing in my heart and in my mind that I think is right.”

The Democratic primary is on June 18.

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Good Thursday morning, Alexandria!

🌥️ Today’s weather: Expect mostly cloudy skies and a high temperature of approximately 54°F, accompanied by a south wind blowing at 6 to 11 mph. On Thursday night, there will be a 50% chance of rain, primarily after 1am, as the temperature drops to around 47°F. South wind speeds will range from 8 to 13 mph, with gusts potentially reaching 18 mph.

🚨 You need to know

Call Your Mother Deli opens in Old Town Alexandria (image via Call Your Mother Deli/Instagram)

Call Your Mother, a popular bagel chain, opened its 13th location at 1300 King Street in Old Town Alexandria this morning (Thursday).

The new location also features the chain’s largest coffee roasting operation on-site, Washingtonian reported.

“We’re roasting our own coffee (which you can peep in real time) and we’re serving up the tightest carbs every dang day from 7 a.m.-4 p.m. at 1300 King Street Alexandria, VA,” the deli’s website said. “Let’s Party!”

The menu features a mix of classic and unique bagels, along with teas and coffee

Image via Call Your Mother Deli/Instagram

📈 Wednesday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Feb 21, 2024.

  1. Alexandria husband and wife real estate team launch website to find lucrative assumable mortgages (1535 views)
  2. Alexandria Police investigating sexual assault in Del Ray last night (1356 views)
  3. Alexandrians sound off with great spots around the city outside of Old Town (1302 views)

📅 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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A man walks a dog at Fort Ward Park (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Alexandria is no stranger to “best of” lists, but nearly all of them focus primarily, sometimes exclusively, on Old Town.

At best, Del Ray might get a mention, but most of the time the top recommendations never stray more than a few blocks from King Street.

A few weeks ago we put out a call for some recommendations outside of Old Town and here’s what people had to say:

Restaurant/Cafe recommendations:

Shops recommendations:

Nature:

Events:

Miscellaneous:

Other very common recommendations were to visit Port City Brewing Company (3950 Wheeler Avenue) and Aslin Beer Company (847 S. Pickett Street) and Lost Boy Cider (317 Hooffs Run Drive).

If you have other favorite locales around Alexandria outside of the West End, from shops to natural spots, sound off in the comments.

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ALXnow has adopted a new assistant editor from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA).

Hugo (né Mallow) was born late last year at the local shelter (4101 Eisenhower Avenue) and adopted earlier this week by editor Vernon Miles. He was profiled last week for Adopt a Rescued Rabbit Month at the AWLA. His sisters Clover and Poppy remain there, available for adoption.

In a release, AWLA said 1,545 animals were adopted from the shelter in 2023. There were 434 animals with medical or behavioral needs who were fostered and 718 were transferred from under-resourced areas.

Hugo will oversee the rabbit affairs desk at ALXnow; a surprisingly busy section with a local poultry market in hot water for selling rabbits last year and new veterinary offices opening up in Old Town.

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George Washington Middle School (Staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Twenty three Alexandria middle schoolers and eight Alexandria City High School students were arrested in the first two quarters of this school year, according to a report that the School Board will receive Thursday.

There were also 213 incidents requiring a police response, including five weapons-related incidents, 43 students needing EMS assistance, 56 fights/assaults and three reports of sexual assault.

Weapons seized include three stun guns/tasers, a pellet gun and a knife.

There were 17 students arrested in the first two quarters of the 2022-2023 school year (last year), and 41 arrested in the final two quarters, totaling 58 arrests and resulting in a 26% increase in students arrested over the previous school year.

Incidents, calls for service and arrests in Alexandria City Public Schools (via ACPS)

Of those arrested so far this year, 20 of them were Black students, making up 55%.

There were 95 incidents reported at the Alexandria City High School campuses, 70 incidents at the city’s two middle schools (Francis C Hammond and George Washington Middle Schools), 35 incidents at elementary schools and 13 incidents at K-8 schools.

There were also 118 police calls for service — 56 at the high school campuses, 46 at the middle schools, four at K-8 schools and 12 at elementary schools.

Racial or national origin composition of arrests within ACPS (via ACPS)

Incidents in the first semester of this school year include:

  • 57 incidents characterized as “other” (including two students discussing weapons, four cases of disorderly conduct, two reports of public intoxication, one fraudulent 911 call)
  • 56 fights/assaults
  • 43 injuries that required medical assistance
  • Five confiscated weapons
  • Nine controlled substances
  • Nine threats (verbal/cyber/social media)
  • Six missing student reports
  • Four reports of suspicious activity
  • Three alarms pulled
  • Three reports of sexual misconduct
  • Six thefts
  • Seven reports of possessing prohibited materials
Semester comparisons of crime incidents in ACPS (via ACPS)
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2312 Mount Vernon Avenue (image via Google Maps)

The Alexandria Police Department (APD) is investigating a sexual assault that occurred last night (Tuesday) in Del Ray.

Police said a woman was walking after midnight around Mount Vernon and Commonwealth Avenues when she was attacked and assaulted by a stranger.

Scanner traffic indicated she was walking home from Pork Barrel BBQ when she was assaulted in an alley. The woman said she was hit from behind and strangled, attacked by a white man on the heavier side. She said when she bit the man, he ran off.

APD said the woman is being treated at a hospital.

APD said the incident is unrelated to an attempted assault at Main Line Blvd earlier this month.

According to the release:

If anyone in this neighborhood has security cameras that may have footage for review or if anyone saw someone or something suspicious, please contact Detective Kristina Loerch at 703-746-6785. Tips can remain anonymous.

Interim Chief Raul Pedroso said, “We are committed to ensuring the safety of our community. The search for the sexual assault suspect is a top priority. We have implemented increased patrols in the area and are ensuring our detectives have all the resources needed for their investigation.

Image via Google Maps

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