Alexandria’s Eve Capps says she’s more surprised than anyone that she’s lived this long. The 100-year-old was born in Sacramento, California, in 1923, and with an acute memory fondly recalls her childhood during the Great Depression.
“My father worked for the railroad, and we went from living in a big house to a shack,” Capps told ALXnow. “But I was just a little girl and I thought it was fun.”
On Tuesday (Sept. 12), Capps and 26 Alexandria centenarians were recognized by city leaders at City Hall. This is the third year for the annual event in observance of National Centenarian’s Day.
Mayor Justin Wilson said that achieving a full century of living is impressive, although the celebration should not simply be about a number.
“It’s about the contributions that all of you have given to for so many years, so many decades, generations, to our community,” Wilson said. “It’s about the rich legacy that you all have created in our community. And that’s a legacy of family, some of which we see here. That a legacy of service, and accomplishment.”
Capps said that the secret to her longevity is staying active.
“I’ve always taken very good care of myself,” she said. “I don’t know why I’ve made it this long. I just keep going on and on, and I’m always surprised when I have a birthday.”
Centenarians in Alexandria
- Mary Addison — 102
- Ann Buxton — 100
- Dorothea G. Campbell — 100
- Eve Capps — 100
- Anita DuMars — 102
- Audrey Fenton — 101
- Lowell Fisher — 101
- Walter A. Hammersley — 101
- Margaret Johnson — 104
- Marjorie Knowlton — 100
- Daniel Krinsley — 101
- John Leeper — 101
- Pauline Lynch — 100
- Charlotte Neborak — 100
- Ada Nelson — 102
- Ann Samuel — 103
- Jane Sara — 103
- Alice Schmidt — 103
- Catherine Sevick — 106
- Helen Smith — 101
- Eva L. Sorenson — 100
- Edith Tillotson — 100
- Barbara Weadon — 100
- Frances Webb — 103
- Ruby Wells — 101
- Virginia Wirtz — 100
- Mildred Youso — 102
Alexandria’s City Hall (301 King Street) will be illuminated in purple this week to commemorate those who have died from drug overdoses and to raise awareness of substance abuse recovery.
Alexandria, in particular, has been hit with an increase in drug overdoses and deaths. According to the release:
Drug overdoses and deaths continued to increase in 2023 in Alexandria as well as across the country, particularly among youth. This increase is driven by the use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine in unregulated drugs, powders and pills. Fentanyl is often pressed into pills and combined with other substances without the user’s knowledge. Consuming even a small amount can lead to an overdose.
The Alexandria Police Department said it’s seen a spike in opioid overdoses in local children in recent years. Earlier this year, multiple Alexandria City High School students were hospitalized with possible overdoses and one student died.
City Hall was lit in teal in 2021 to raise awareness of opioid recovery.
The release said City Hall will be illuminated starting on Tuesday, Aug. 29, through the morning of Friday, Sept. 1.
It wouldn’t be Alexandria without a contentious fight over zoning and density.
As the city begins to roll out plans for zoning reform to create more housing and affordability ahead of City Council review this fall, a new group opposing some of the new proposals is hosting a rally in Market Square (300 King Street) tonight (Monday).
The Coalition for a Livable Alexandria says its rally at 6 p.m. today seeks to “educate Alexandria residents regarding city plans to greatly increase building density through radical changes to the city’s zoning code,” the group said in an event listing.
The group said all sides of the issue are encouraged to attend and discuss the zoning reforms.
The Coalition for a Livable Alexandria’s website criticized the timetable of the project rollout:
The city plans to fast-track its package of sweeping zoning changes starting this fall, leaving limited time or opportunity for public input or action. the city’s proposal amounts to a blank check for developers. While no one disagrees that more affordable housing is needed in Alexandria, the reality is, this proposal will not make a significant difference in the affordable housing supply. instead, the new framework disenfranchises residents, while giving a greenlight to overdevelopment, and gentrification.
The city’s website says the initiative will “propose a zoning framework that adds to the housing supply now provided by Single Family zones,” including reevaluating the current limit of one household per lot and reexamining the city’s definition of family. The site likewise says the initiative will “explore use of bonus height provision in zones with height limits of 45 feet or more.”
In both cases, however, there’s no concrete information yet on the new regulations for single-family zoning or bonus height provisions, saying that both would be further explored as part of the Zoning for Housing/Housing for All project.
A city-led Zoning for Housing/Housing for All panel discussion is scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. in the Holiday Inn Carlyle (2460 Eisenhower Avenue). The meeting can also be attended via Zoom (login information is on the city website).
The Coalition for Zoning has already gotten some pushback from Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson, who spent Sunday driving around the city highlighting multi-family housing built around Alexandria, some of which could not be built today under the current zoning regulations.
A new group opposing our “Zoning For Housing” effort suggests that allowing multi-family residences would “fundamentally change the look and character of Alexandria.”
So today Kid2 and I decided to drive around (this doubled as new-driver training). Here’s what we found:
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) August 27, 2023
The City of Alexandria is kicking off Pride Month next weekend with an afternoon of everything from spoken word poetry to a “Drag Queen Story Hour.”
The 6th annual kick-off event is scheduled for Saturday, June 3, from 2-5 p.m. at Market Square (301 King Street).
“Collect Pride swag, enjoy music and food, make some art and get your face painted, pose for a Pride pic, and learn about LGBTQ+ inclusive services in Alexandria,” the city’s website said. “Free and confidential health services and vaccines available.”
The kick-off starts with a story hour hosted by a drag queen at 2 p.m., followed by spoken word at 3 p.m. and an improv workshop at 4 p.m.
#Pride Month is almost here. #SavetheDate for the City's Pride kick-off event. Join us for the celebration and learn about Alexandria's LGBTQ+ inclusive services. All are welcome to attend!
Date: June 3
Time: 2-5 p.m.
Location: Market Square
Details: https://t.co/bnwydvTWh1 pic.twitter.com/AUaBL1ptqr
— AlexandriaVAGov (@AlexandriaVAGov) May 24, 2023
A word of caution to those attending: the event has already attracted some negative attention, with some on social media calling event organizers “groomers.” Earlier this year there was some violence at a similar story hour event in Silver Spring, when a far-right group tried to force their way into the bookstore that was hosting it.
Photo via Sophie Emeny/Unsplash
Updated at 3:30 p.m. on May 24 — The estimated costs of the total infrastructure improvements at the former Landmark Mall site have ballooned 40% since City Council signed off on the project in 2021, forcing the city to get creative with its financing.
Tonight (Tuesday), the City Council will vote on directing City Manager Jim Parajon to execute an agreement between the city, Landmark Land Holdings (a joint venture between Foulger-Pratt, The Howard Hughes Corp. and Seritage Growth Properties.) and Inova Healthcare Services to address the $62 million shortfall.
The increase is due to a number of issues, including inflation and equipment shortages, according to a staff report to be presented to Council. The initial agreement between the parties had the city contributing $86 million for infrastructure and $54.25 million for the future home of Alexandria Hospital for a total of $140.25 million. Now the city proposes to increase Landmark Redevelopment-related City Bonds in a “maximum aggregate principal amount sufficient” to raise $37.6 million in net construction proceeds to pay for the infrastructure improvements and interest charges on those bonds.
City staff said that worsened economic conditions pose challenges to future private investments to the project, and that “unanticipated interest rate hikes coupled with illiquidity of the debt markets further worsened by the collapse of regional banks have resulted in a deterioration of asset values.”
“The cost increase is a factor of various events including advancement of design and engineering, infrastructure, parks and open space scope refinement, supply chain disruptions, material and labor cost increase due to both inflation and shortages, and regional competition due to the prevalence of major projects stimulated in part by federal infrastructure funding,” city staff reported.
Additionally, “While the Developer was able to value engineer approximately $17 million in savings, the overall cost for infrastructure improvements has increased by approximately $45 million based on executed guaranteed maximum price construction contracts for approximately 70% of the infrastructure costs.”
In March, City Council unanimously approved the Inova at Landmark project, which includes a 569,000 square-foot hospital center, a 111,000 square-foot cancer center, an 83,000 square-foot specialty care center and a retrofitted 550-space parking garage. Inova wants to start construction on its 1.1 million-square-foot project in 2024 and have the four-building hospital campus finished by 2028.
The proposed plan to address the funding gap is below:
- Landmark Land Holdings has agreed to cover approximately $7.5 million of the funding gap by waiving fee on increased costs and increasing its equity contribution, further reducing its developer fee, and shifting a portion of the infrastructure improvement costs to individual vertical parcel developments
- The City will fund $37.6 million of the funding gap through the increased issuance of City Bonds to be repaid from synthetic Incremental Tax Revenues (real property tax, retail sales and use tax, meals tax, and transient lodging tax) generated from the Landmark site. The CDA will increase the special assessment backstop to account for this increased issuance
- Block D in the project will be dedicated as workforce housing
- The parties will explore exemption/removal of Block J (Affordable Housing/Fire Station) from the Landmark Community Development Authority special assessment obligations and from assessments related to a future business improvement service district to increase feasibility of affordable housing at Block J
- For two years, Landmark Land Holdings will identify and make available up to three pop-up spaces for local businesses with a minimum of 90 days to operate with their license agreement becoming month-to-month after the initial 90 days
Personal security cameras, speed cameras in school zones, summer youth employment programs and eviction prevention funding are just a few of the final additions included in the fiscal year 2024 budget by the Alexandria City Council on Tuesday.
Council approved funding a $20,000 program to encourage businesses and homeowners with a “small incentive” to set up security cameras to deter crime, as well as increase their coordination with the Alexandria Police Department.
“I like the concept,” Mayor Justin Wilson said. “I think we want our residents to partner with us in providing this kind of neighborhood visibility.”
Other additions include $490,000 for five speed cameras at school crossing zones around the city. Last year, Council approved $400,000 for the speed camera program in five school zones.
Not all of the requests made the final cut. Vice Mayor Amy Jackson’s request to give the Alexandria Commission for Women $20,000 for it’s 50th anniversary event failed to gain consensus.
Council also took $657,629 from the budget that was intended for the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center (200 S. Whiting Street), pending proposals from City Manager Jim Parajon to find alternative uses for the facility, pursue regional partnerships for facility use and optimize capacity for the underutilized space.
The full list of additions to the budget are below.
- Out of School Time Program (OSTP) staffing ($200,000) — This increases paid leave and benefits for part-time staffing with the city’s Out of School Time program.
- Fee waiver for OSTP participants ($15,000) — This would fund a waiver for program participants eligible for SNAP and TANF.
- Speed cameras in school zones ($490,000) — This adds five photo speed cameras to school crossing zones prioritized by the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services
- Childcare services ($50,000) — This will provide child-minding services at City COuncil town hall events, as well as select board, committee and commission meetings.
- Additional eviction prevention funding ($150,000) — This would increase the current funding level of $100,000, all of which will “reasonably assist 40 households in FY24,” according to the city.
- Central coordinator for immigrant affairs/refugee settlement ($110,000) — This would explore a new position or series of positions that could advance efforts to connect immigrant communities with information, resources and services and address the city’s challenges with immigrant populations.
- RPCA Mental Health Pilot position ($75,000) — These funds would go toward developing a Department of Recreation Parks and Cultural Activities pilot program for youth mental health services.
- Summer youth employment program ($214,943) — This would expand the program by 50%, to serve 255 children (85 more than the current program).
- Study for local housing voucher program ($250,000) — This would add funding for a study on a voucher-like program that stabilizes housing and enables access for low-income housholds across the city’s private rental market.
- City library security ($70,000) — This funding maintains library security staffing at current levels.
- Department of Aging and Adult Services ($19,000) — This fills the gap created by Virginia budget formula changed related to the Older Americans Act.
- DASH service line expansion on Line 33 ($120,000) — This would expand DASH Line 33 service from once every 60 minutes to 30 minutes on Sundays, easing connections to the new Potomac Yard Metro Station.
- Visit Alexandria advertising ($78,000) — This additional funding can be used by Visit Alexandria for any sort of media, online or print advertising, either regionally or nationally at their discretion.
- City Council aide compensation increase ($5,300) — This is a 2% scale compensation adjustment.
- Private security camera incentive program ($20,000)
- Continuation of AEDP economic recovery manager ($147,208) — The ERPM is responsible for creating and administering AEDPs Business Association Grant program, which supports Alexandria business associations as well as other ARDP rogramming to promote economic recovery.
- Rental inspection program enhancement ($136,000) — This allows staff to evaluate non-compliant multi-family rental properties.
The budget will be approved on May 3 and go into effect on July 1.
It was an unseasonably warm 60 degrees on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 3) in Old Town for the Campagna Center’s 51st Scottish Christmas Walk Parade.
The parade is one of the most popular events in the city, bringing thousands of participants, including Irish dancers, historic reenactors and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums. It is considered the highlight of a weekend full of events.
This year’s grand marshal was former City Council Member Del Pepper.
— Visit Alexandria VA (@AlexandriaVA) December 3, 2022
It’s the most wonderful day of the year! The Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/G9uT8chYPo
— Alyia Gaskins (@Alyia4ALX) December 4, 2022
The rain stopped JUST in time and we had an amazing parade! pic.twitter.com/FTbJOFebh0
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) December 3, 2022
The 51st Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade is on the move! pic.twitter.com/0YUiqzP3NE
— Visit Alexandria VA (@AlexandriaVA) December 3, 2022
The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a collective bargaining agreement with the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, ushering in a new era of collaboration with city employees.
If likely approved in the fiscal year 2024 budget this May, the agreement means substantial pay increases for new officers, sergeants and lieutenants. The current base salary of $54,698 for an officer would be increased by 11% to $61,503 at the beginning of the next fiscal year, July 1, 2023. After next year, salaries for officers would increase 2% annually.
Mayor Justin Wilson said that the collective bargaining agreement is historic, since it’s the first of its kind to be approved in Virginia.
“This is a really important step.,” Wilson said. “We came to a place that that was mutually agreeable one that I think moves the needle forward and recognizes our hard working police officers for the work that they do every day for our residents at work that is greatly valued by the community, but does so in a constructive way in partnership with the city, recognizing that we’re all in this together.”
Damon Minnix, president of Alexandria chapter of the Southern States Police Benevolent Association, said that the agreement creates a new pay scale based on years of service.
“We’ve spent countless hours working towards this agreement,” Minnix said. “Most importantly, this process and agreement opens the lines of communication between the interests of our officers and city management.”
Compensation issues have plagued the Alexandria Police Department for years.
The collective bargaining agreement includes:
- A one-time payment to employees who will not get at least a 10% pay increase in the agreement
- A $1,000 longevity bonus for well-seasoned officers in July 2024 and July 2025
- A 5% pay boost for officers in specialized units, including academy instructors, motorcycle officers, field training officers and K9 handlers
- Formation of union committee
The agreement also asks the city to conduct a “cost-neutral, 20-year retirement option with an immediate payout and no minimum age requirement” for officers.
City Manager Jim Parajon said that coming to an agreement was an exhausting process.
“This agreement is not without disagreements, and is a I think an excellent start,” he said. “It really does value our police officers at a very significant level.”
Old Town just got a little brighter.
On Saturday (Nov. 19), Santa Claus made his way to City Hall on the King Street Trolley to help members of City Council light the holiday tree at Market Square in front of City Hall.
Town Crier Ben Fiore-Walker started things off with a proclamation, followed by speeches by Santa and Mayor Justin Wilson.
There are 40,000 lights on the 40-foot-tall tree at Market Square.
Coming up, the Del Ray holiday tree and Menorah lighting is on Sunday, December 4. Santa is also expected to make an appearance at the annual event.
Photos via Elijah Walter Griffin, Sr./Griffin Vision
Santa Claus will ride into Old Town on the King Street Trolley this Saturday night (Nov. 19) for the annual holiday tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall.
The party starts at 6 p.m. at Market Square (301 King Street), where Santa and Mayor Justin Wilson will do their part to reduce seasonal darkness by lighting the 40,000 lights on the city’s 40-foot-tall holiday tree.
Town Crier Ben Fiore-Walker will cap off the event, which will include a program of holiday carols.
Admission is free, and the event will occur rain or shine.