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Interstellar Influencer (photo by Justin Wilson/Twitter)

A new piece of art is making an impact on Alexandria’s waterfront.

The art piece Interstellar Influencer (Make an Impact) was installed this week in Alexandria’s Waterfront Park. The work represents the asteroid that impacted with Earth 35 million years ago and helped shape the Chesapeake Bay.

The work was crafted by Jason Klimoski and Lesley Chang. It’s the sixth piece of public artwork installed at Alexandria’s Waterfront Park and will be on display from March through November 2024.

“We want this representation of the asteroid and its impact to raise awareness of the fragility of our shared existence on this planet and the extraordinary (and sometime extraterrestrial) foundation of our modern cities and waterways.” Klimoski said on the project’s website. “We all share this one planet and live within the history of events that shaped it. Sometimes you have to look at it from the point of view of an asteroid hurtling through space 35,000,000 years ago to appreciate just how incredible it is we’re here at all.”

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Cherry blossoms in D.C. (staff photo by Vernon Miles)

The National Park Service tweeted out a bloom watch update: the cherry blossoms are at a phase called ‘peduncle elongation’ — roughly stage 4 of 6 for the blossoms — meaning peak bloom is just around the corner.

Cherry blossom season often evokes a mixed reaction in Alexandrians and others around the region.

On the one hand, it’s a marvel and a visually staggering experience to see the banks of the Potomac lit up in countless pink blossoms.

On the other hand, it has something of a Fleet Week reputation where the locals know to get out of town and avoid the dense tourist crowds.

That bloom is likely to hit peak this weekend or early next week. The Washington Post reported that the “indicator tree” at the Tidal Basin, which typically blooms a week ahead of the others, reached peak bloom this past weekend. During that time, the Tidal Basin will likely be packed with crowds enjoying the colorful bloom.

Of course: Alexandrians don’t have to go to D.C. to enjoy cherry blossom season. There are several events and cherry blossom tours around Alexandria, though many of the latter do involve trips to the iconic cherry blossoms along the D.C. side of the Potomac River.

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Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin,Dec. 13, 2023 (staff photo by James Cullum)

Plans for an increase in Metro funding could be in peril as part of the battle over the new Potomac Yard arena.

This weekend, Sen. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), chair of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, stripped additional Metro funding from the State Senate’s proposed budget, the Washington Post reported.

Lucas said Metro has “not done a good job of managing their resources” and called for more reform within the transit organization before Virginia would increase its funding. It’s a position that ironically mirrors Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s before the Potomac Yard arena announcement. Since then, Youngkin has said he would be more amenable to increased funding to Metro — which currently faces a $750 million shortfall.

Metro leadership previously said the shortfall could lead to 67 bus routes being cut, 2,300 layoffs, and 10 closed Metro stations — including the Potomac Yard Metro station.

Metro General Manager Randy Clarke and Paul Smedberg, former Alexandria City Council member and Chairman of the WMATA Board of Directors, shared a picture earlier today of a meeting with Lucas and said they were continuing to engage in discussions about Metro.

The deadline for a budget is — generally — the adjourning of the legislative session on March 9.

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The two options for the new ACPS logo (via ACPS)

Two years after the School Board requested a new logo for Alexandria City Public Schools, rejecting an initial replacement, Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt came back with a new logo recommendation earlier this month.

In a 5-3 vote, the School Board also rejected the new logo design.

The proposed logo featured the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, but drew criticism from some on the School Board who noted that the building, which honors George Washington and is styled after the Lighthouse of Alexandria, is more representative of the city’s past than its future.

Neither of the proposed logos were particularly popular on ACPS’ social media channels.

Current ACPS logo (image via ACPS)

School Board member Meagan Alderton, however, said the logo fight is a distraction from meaningful work on addressing issues of racism and discrimination in the school system.

“While I appreciate all these symbolic discussions, I would love for people to start walking into this Board room and get on our case and blast us on that equity dashboard,” Alderton said. “That is the real work on racism. We have all these other little things that become distractions. It is 100% a distraction to the work, and I believe, at this point, it is a tactic.”

Abdel-Rahman Elnoubi proposed that the current logo be left in place, tabling the logo discussion indefinitely, but the School Board ultimately voted for Superintendent Melanie Kay-Wyatt to return to the School Board with additional logo designs for the School Board to vote on.

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Rendering of aerial view of Monumental Arena development (image courtesy of JBG SMITH)

Earlier today, officials announced plans to bring the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards to a new arena in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood.

The new $2 billion arena, leased to Monumental Sports & Entertainment, is scheduled to break ground in 2025 and open sometime in late 2028, a press release from the governor’s office said.

In addition to the arena — immediately adjacent to the Potomac Yard Metro station — the new development would include a concert venue, media studio, retail, residential, restaurants and more.

All of that’s still pending approval from the Virginia legislature and Alexandria’s City Council, but the project enjoyed bipartisan support from leaders like Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Senator Mark Warner, and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.

Less enthusiastic, however, were some residents outside of the building and much of the discussion online, and not entirely from traditional sources of arguments around density. Concerns were voiced online about the facility’s impact on both car traffic and Metro congestion’s impact on transit commuters and travelers to National Airport.

https://twitter.com/JBfromDC89/status/1734955017390497978

How do you feel about the proposed arena development at Potomac Yard?

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A woman stands in the snow with a shovel in Arlandria, Jan. 3, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

With the advent of virtual learning in public schools during the Covid pandemic, it seemed like snow days would become a thing of the past.

In late 2021, Alexandria said remote learning would replace in-person classes during what, in the past, would have been a day away from school for children.

A bill was proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates earlier this year to make remote learning a mandatory substitute for snow days, though the bill died in the House Committee on Education.

Now, some localities are starting to reconsider that push to replace snow days with virtual learning.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced earlier this year that the school district would restore snow days and end the use of virtual learning.

“This adjustment aims to maximize in-person learning and to ensure equitable access to instruction and student services for all students,” FCPS said in a press release.

Alexandria City Public Schools’ website says, if there are sufficient calendar days, the school division will consider designating the day “as an actual snow day for all students and staff.”

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Thanksgiving turkey prepared in a restaurant (Flickr photo by Sarah Lou)

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and travel has already been a mess for some people.

Travelers at National Airport this morning and last night found cars backed up down Route 1, with some missing their flights.

AAA said today (Wednesday) is the worst day to travel by car as well, especially between 2-6 p.m., NBC4 reported.

There are chances of rain today, though it should be mostly clear in the afternoon, and folks in the Alexandria area should enjoy sunny weather on Thanksgiving Day.

Photo via Sarah Lou/Flickr

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Royal Restaurant (image via Google Maps)

Royal Restaurant, now under new ownership, is the latest Alexandria restaurant to seek permission to swap out some of its parking space for more outdoor seating.

The restaurant is hoping to trade 10 parking spaces for 60 outdoor seats. Another 30 seats will be added to an alley on the west side of the building.

The proposal would add an elevated deck outside the building on part of the parking lot.

Royal Restaurant isn’t the first to trade parking space for outdoor seating, several restaurants have turned parking areas into outdoor seating.

Outdoor seating took off in Alexandria during Covid, and the city has been working to make it easier for restaurants to make temporary outdoor seating permanent.

Reception to the change was mixed in the comments and on social media.

“Glad the restaurant is ‘evolving’,” one commenter said. “However I loved the small-town neighborhood feel of the restaurant… The parking really helped us. My parents are in their 80s and look forward to going to Royals. The changes will be hard for them.”

“How unfortunate,” a commenter on Facebook said, “parking was a major perk at the Royal since street parking options are limited.”

But others said the trade-off was a “no-brainer” and noted that there’s often ample street parking on N. St. Asaph Street and nearby streets.

“An additional 90 seats for paying customers at the expense of only a few parking spaces is a no-brainer,” one commenter said.

Image via Google Maps

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Halloween on Lee Street in Old Town, October 31, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

Halloween is right around the corner and there’s no locality in the region that goes as all out for the year’s spookiest holiday as Alexandria.

There are events throughout the weekend, including multiple costume contests, and the Del Ray Halloween Parade on Sunday — noted as one of the best Halloween parades in the country.

When it comes to costumes and decorations, some fully commit while others mostly abstain. Where do you fall?

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Rendering of the proposed mixed-use development at the former site of the GenOn Power Plant in Old Town North (via City of Alexandria)

Hilco Redevelopment Partners said a new mixed-use development at the former GenOn Power Plant site takes inspiration from the Renaissance Revival-style Flatiron building in New York. Reception online was mixed.

The Flatiron, built at the start of the 20th century, is an iconic design at 175 Fifth Avenue. While the proposed developments at Block B have a similarly tall and narrow shape, the Alexandria building still has strong elements of the fast-casual architecture style dominating recent development around the region.

To the untrained eye, the triangular apex also draws some comparison to the Jawa sandcrawler.

What do you think? Do you see the Flatiron resemblance?

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