Newsletter

The Mount Vernon Trail is turning 50 and local organizations are planning to celebrate with a birthday party in Alexandria this weekend.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at Daingerfield Island (1 Marina Drive). The birthday party will feature a short ceremony, a scavenger hunt for kids, and giveaways. There will also be information on volunteer opportunities along the trail. The party is free and open to the public.

The event is a partnership between the City of Alexandria, Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), Walk/Bike Arlington and East Coast Greenway.

According to the event website:

On April 15, 1972, the first 4.5-mile stretch of the Mount Vernon Trail opened to the public. The gravel path ran from Belle Haven in Alexandria to the Memorial Bridge in Arlington and was the brainchild of two Alexandria women, Ellen Pickering and Barbara Lynch. In 1971, the two gathered over 700 signatures on a petition to create a trail alongside the George Washington Memorial Parkway. The National Park Service was sympathetic to the plea and agreed to provide the right-of-way, gravel, and tools if Pickering and Lynch could provide volunteers to do the work. So Pickering and Lynch organized 40 volunteers, and every Saturday that winter they spread gravel. In total, 400 recruits spread 4,200 tons of gravel, contributing 5,300 hours of labor to start the trail that would become a vital recreational and transportation corridor in the region.

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The cherry blossoms are an annual regional highlight, and Visit Alexandria has announced a suite of new and returning events around the city to experience the season.

Guidance on exploring during cherry blossom season was a little more tepid last year owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, but such concerns were notably absent from the this year’s announcement and downward-trending case counts.

Visit Alexandria recommends biking or boating for seeing the cherry blossoms.

Unlimited Biking at 421 King Street has cherry blossom packages running from March 20 to April 12, with options for $15 rentals or to join a $44 guided tour.

“Pedal from Unlimited Biking: Old Town Alexandria along the Potomac River to the famous cherry blossoms of Washington DC with Unlimited Biking’s bike rental package that provides you with all that you need for your journey — maps, helmets, bike bags and locks. Hybrid bikes, road bikes, eBikes, kids bikes and kids attachments are available,” Visit Alexandria said.

The guided tours start and end at 998 Maine Avenue SW. Visit Alexandria said the tours are two hours long and run multiple times during the day.

Alternatively, Pedego Electric Bikes (210 North Lee Street) has tours from Old Town up into D.C.

The tour season runs from March 19-April 17, with tours leaving at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on weekends and tours only availably by appointment on weekdays. Tickets are $69 per bike.

“Join a three-hour guided tour from Old Town Alexandria to the cherry blossoms, including a ride through the blossoms around East Potomac Park,” Visit Alexandria said. The views of the blossoms from a Pedego are fantastic, and you don’t have to fight traffic or find a place to park downtown. Tours will run as long as there are blooms on the cherry blossom trees.”

The release said tours can be booked by calling 571-312-5168 or emailing [email protected]

By boat, Visit Alexandria said the best options are the Water Taxi or a monuments cruise.

The Water Taxi runs from the Wharf to Old Town — with other stops at National Harbor and Georgetown — with departures starting at noon and running about 25 minutes. Trips are $23 one-way or $39 round-trip. Trips depart from the Alexandria Marina at 1 Cameron Street.

“From the dock at The Wharf, it is a 10-minute walk to the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin,” the release said. “The water taxi docks at the Transit Pier, 950 Wharf Street SW, near the Tidal Basin, the National Mall, Hains Point and a Capital Bikeshare station.”

There is also the Washington Monuments Cruise to the Cherry Blossoms, which starts March 19. It also departs from the Alexandria Marina, with $26 one-way tickets and $42 round-trip tickets. The cruise is 45 minutes and ends in Georgetown.

The release also included information on some local food and drink offerings themed around cherry blossoms:

  • Common Plate Hospitality’s Cherry Blossom Cocktails and Murals at Augie’s Beer Garden (1106 King Street) and Mason Social (728 N. Henry Street) — Both restaurants have custom cherry blossom-themed items on the menu: a black cherry Bellini with gold glitter and a cherry pie old fashioned. Items are available through March 31.
  • Special cherry blossom blend at Turkish Coffee Lady (1001 King Street) — local coffee shop Turkish Coffee Lady has a special cherry blossom-themed coffee presentation available through April 30.
  • Winter in Tokyo menu at Captain Gregory’s (804 N. Henry Street) — The speakeasy will have Japanese gin, whiskey and vodka along with sake cocktails and menu items featuring Japanese-inspired dishes. The Winter in Tokyo menu is available through March 31.
  • “The Blossom” cocktail at Lena’s Wood-fired Pizza & Tap (401 E. Braddock Road) — The pizza restaurant will have a new cherry blossom themed cocktail that’s a mix of Rhum Barbancourt, plum-rose syrup, Luxardo, lemon juice and a floating edible blossom. The cocktail will be available from March 1 through April 17.
  • Cherry blossom cider from Lost Boy Cider (317 Hooffs Run Drive) — Starting March 2, Lost Boy Cider will be producing a cherry blossom cider available in-house or from a few local grocery chains like Whole Foods.
  • Cherry blossom sangria from Alexandria Restaurant Partners — From March 15-April 15, various Alexandria Restaurant Partners’ locations will have a seasonal sangria with brut rosé, Blanc Vermouth, cherry juice and orange flower water.
  • Cherry blossom gelato at Dolci Gelati (107 N. Fairfax Street) — Dolci Gelati is bringing back a cherry blossom gelato in limited supply from March 20-April 20. The gelato is available in-person, for pickup and delivery.

A full list of local cherry blossom experiences is available at the Visit Alexandria website.

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Business has been so good at the Pedego Electric Bikes shop in Old Town that owner Todd Ketch is planning to open another location in Vienna next month. The ink is still drying on the deal, but if all goes as planned then Ketch will be opening in an industrial section of downtown Vienna.

“The pandemic was like dumping gasoline to the fire for the electric bike market,” Ketch said. “It’s not going to stop from here. How are we going to take full advantage? I’m going to open a second store in Vienna, and we’re excited.”

No official announcement has yet been made, and Ketch wants to do a soft opening in March and a grand opening in May.

There are three bike models available to buy and rent at Pedego, ranging from $1,995 to $5,495. The bikes can go up to 60 miles on a single charge (without pedaling) and travel at 20 miles per hour. One model can even be retrofitted to travel 28 miles per hour. A single rental will cost $100 for the entire day, $70 for four hours or $40 for two hours.

Ketch, who is a licensed Pedego dealer and not a franchisee, has been in business at 210 N. Lee Street since 2019. He’s a former lobbyist and government affairs executive, and Woodbridge with his wife and four kids.

Aside from the new location, Ketch is now gearing up for the busiest time of the year — The National Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 20 to April 17.

“That’s when we really get our season going,” Ketch said. “We’re we’re getting ready for that, in addition to trying to get position to open the other store.”

Photo via Pedego/Facebook

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After seven years in Del Ray, Ascend Cycle (2417 Mount Vernon Avenue) is permanently closing by the end of the month.

Owner Kat Zajac made the announcement this week on social media, and said that the effects of the pandemic proved too much for her business.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I write this announcement,” Zajac wrote. “The impact of the pandemic has continued to be very real across this year. While this decision may come as a shock to some of you, it has been something that I have been working to avoid for quite some time.”

Zajac thanked customers and staff, and said that the closure was not due to a lack of effort.

“From creating an outdoor studio, to online programs, to moving our location to save on rent, to being as frugal as possible, we made every effort imaginable to stay alive,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, our efforts have proven to not be enough – the time has come to let go. This decision comes with a whole host of emotions. Despite it all, I feel grateful to have been surrounded by an amazing community of people. So with that, I want to say thank you.”

Via Facebook

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In the midst of everything else that’s happened over the last year, the Seminary Road debate can feel like a relic of another age, but there was a time when the Complete Streets program was at the center of a community-wide debate.

Complete Streets is an Alexandria program that aims to redesign roadways for the benefit of all users, with pedestrians and cyclists in mind along with motorists. The program stirred up some local controversy over plans to reduce travel lanes on Seminary Road in favor of bike lanes. A form put out by the city allowed locals to weigh in on street resurfacing.

“In 2018, the City began issuing an annual Citywide feedback form for residents to provide input on streets that are being resurfaced,” staff said in a report. “Feedback is usually collected for non-local streets where striping improvements are potentially feasible. Staff analyzes all public comments and produces a report for each street to summarize resident feedback.”

A staff report said that each Complete Streets announcement often comes with significant feedback.

“Every year, staff develops a repaving feedback form to solicit community input on streets that are scheduled to be repaved in the coming paving season, accompanied by an eNews release, webpage updates, and social media engagement,” the report said. “Staff receives hundreds of community comments related to repaving each year, which are then analyzed and summarized in a report for each street. The intention is that this feedback would then be used to inform potential changes to those streets via repaving. The original of this effort was to garner feedback to improve service delivery.”

At a Transportation Commission meeting tomorrow, the city will consider a proposal (page 36) from staff to eliminate a form that allowed locals to offer input on the project, saying the form was often misused and wastes staff resources:

  • Much of the community feedback is related to issues beyond the scope street resurfacing
  • This results in wasted staff effort and a potential erosion of trust between City staff and
    residents
  • Much feedback does not end up getting used
  • The repaving form sometimes creates speculation about what the City is planning to do to
    streets that are repaved, which can increase tensions in the community
  • This approach fails to set accurate or reasonable expectations

Staff are recommending that the form but eliminated in favor of more targeted local outreach.

The report also recommends longer-term planning for the Complete Streets program to help make implementation occur on a more reliable timeline.

“Staff recommends the development of a five-year work plan for Complete Streets with input from the Transportation Commission,” the report said. “This approach would generate clear expectations for residents, City Council, City boards and commissions, and staff for what Complete Streets improvements will be done. Staff anticipates this work plan would be developed in Fiscal Year 2023 and would consider crash data and equity to support and align with Vision Zero efforts.”

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Capital Bikeshare at Pickett & Shillings streets (photo via Transportation & Environmental Services/Facebook)

New Capital Bikeshare stations have recently been installed in Alexandria, with more on the way this month and next.

On Friday, Capital Bikeshare installed a new dock at S. Pickett Street and Shillings Street, near the Contempo NOVA (né Modera Tempo) apartments at 5760 Dow Avenue.

Later this month, Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES) said new Capital Bikeshare stations are scheduled to be installed at:

  • S. Jordan Street and Venable Avenue just off Duke Street, near Aldi
  • Peyton Street and King Street in Old Town

Next month, T&ES said stations will be installed at:

  • Edison Street and W. Reed Avenue in Arlandria
  • King Street and Kenwood Avenue near Alexandria City High School
  • S. Washington Street and Wilkes Street in Old Town
  • E. Glebe Road and Main Line Blvd. in Potomac Yard
  • Commonwealth Avenue and W Reed Avenue between Potomac Yard and Arlandria

A full map of all Capital Bikeshare locations across Alexandria is available online.

Photo via Capital Bikeshare

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Morning Notes

Capitol officer who committed suicide was from Alexandria — “Very sad news: @MikevWUSA @wusa9 reports MPD Officer Kyle DeFreytag died by suicide in July after defending the US Capitol on January 6. His obituary says he was a hiker, drummer, motorcyclist, and resident of Alexandria, who served with MPD for five years” [WUSA9]

Alexandria, neighboring health directors recommend wearing face masks indoors — “Today, all five Northern Virginia Health Directors issued a joint letter of interim recommendations for mask wearing in Northern Virginia. The letter was issued by Health Directors from the City of Alexandria, as well as Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties to Northern Virginia Mayors, Chairs and Chief Administrative Officers with the recommendation that individuals wear masks while indoors in government and other public settings, regardless of vaccination status.” [City of Alexandria]

Olympics update — Noah Lyles races today in the 200 meter final at 8:55 a.m., and Tynita Butts-Townsend competes in a high jump qualifier at 8 p.m. [ALXnow]

City makes September feedback deadline for making outdoor business programs permanent — “Programs include the closure of the 100 block of King Street to vehicles, the use of on-street parking spaces for dining, retail and fitness use and the curbside loading zones for customer pick-up of food and merchandise. City Council approved the initiatives in 2020 to provide safe opportunities to patronize and support City businesses during the challenging economic times associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The temporary programs are in effect until January 1, 2022.” [City of Alexandria]

Traffic and Parking Board to vote on expanding Capital Bikeshare — “The existing bikeshare stations are located mostly in the eastern and northern regions of Alexandria, with plans to not only add more stations in Old Town but to also add several stations in the West End. In regard to the final seven bikeshare locations that have yet to be determined, Casey Kane, a member of the board, encouraged staff to prioritize locations around Holmes Run.” [AlexTimes]

Cat cafe sees 180 felines adopted in first year — “Mount Purrnon, Alexandria’s only cat café, has found fur-ever homes for 180 cats in its first year in business… The cafe area, separated from the cats (for obvious reasons), serves a variety of food, coffee and drinks. There is also free Wi-Fi and day/monthly passes for those who wish to telework from there. Regular special events include Jeopurrdy, meditation, and wine tastings.” [Alexandria Living]

Today’s weather — “Cloudy skies early, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. Slight chance of a rain shower. High 81F. Winds NE at 10 to 15 mph… Mostly clear (in the evening). Low 62F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Entry level computer programmer — “As the fastest growing employer of emerging tech talent across the U.S, Revature looks to hire over 300 innovative Entry Level Computer Programmers in the next 4 weeks.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

National search begins for new City Manager — “City Council has chosen the firm POLIHIRE to conduct a nationwide recruiting search. Members approved initial recruiting materials, including a recruitment brochure and timeline, during a closed executive session during the July 6 meeting.” [Patch]

Free food distribution this Saturday — “On Sat, July 17, @ALIVE4AlexVA will distribute food at 3 sites from 8:30-10:30am. Drive-up: Cora Kelly Elem School & NOVA-Alexandria (lot B-1). Walk-up: Ramsay Rec Center.” [Twitter]

Alexandrians biking in 211-mile charity ride — “Three residents from Alexandria will be among more than 6,000 riders participating in the 211-mile Pan-Mass Challenge on Aug. 7 and 8.” [Patch]

Today’s weather — “Sunshine and clouds mixed (during the day). High 93F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph… A few clouds from time to time (in the evening). Low 74F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Office manager — “Looking for someone proficient in word, office,Excel, and QuickBooks, to manage multifaceted Catering Company. Timely response to e-mails, seamless communications with 2 kitchens, as well as front of the house. Flexible hours, with potential for health benefits.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

ACPS wants input on how to spend COVID relief funds — “Feedback on use of the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief can be provided through June 18, while the Equity for All Climate Survey is open through June 20.” [Patch]

Memorial bike ride Sunday at for bicyclist killed — “Join FABB’s memorial ride in honor of Fatima Del Carmen Alvarez Romero this Sunday, June 13, at 10:00 am at Huntington Metro kiss and ride lot. Ride to crash site for a moment of remembrance and to call for much-needed safety measures. Please wear white and bring signs.” [Twitter]

Karma Modern Indian Eyes Expansion into Old Town — “Karma Modern Indian, a Michelin-recognized destination for fine Indian cuisine in downtown Washington, D.C., is opening a sister restaurant in Alexandria. Dubbed Kismet Modern Indian, the restaurant will be at 111 N. Pitt St. and is set for a fall opening. The location was formerly home, for a short time, to BurgerFi and before that, Ireland’s Own. The late Pat Troy presided over the legendary spot for more than three decades.” [Alexandria Living]

Mayor Wilson named president of Virginia Transit Association — “VTA is a nonprofit corporation of transit professionals from public and private organizations; it includes transit systems from across the state, businesses that serve transit systems and local government officials and organizations concerned about transportation, mobility, affordable access to employment and quality of life issues.” [Zebra]

Alexandria to start nominating committee for collective bargaining labor relations administrator — “The City has been notified that each of the following groups are interested in having a representative on the nominating committee: American Federation of State; County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); International Union of Police Associations (IUPA); and the Southern States Police Benevolent Association (PBA). To participate on the nominating committee, any employee organization interested in representing a bargaining unit must notify the City Manager by email at [email protected] by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 16.” [City of Alexandria]

West End Business Association hosting COVID meeting for restaurants — The Alexandria Health Department will update restaurant owners on how to open post-COVID. Homegrown Restaurant Group’s “Mango” Mike Anderson will also speak at the event, which will be held from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 23, at Glory Days Grill. [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Rain (during the day). High near 70F. Winds E at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall near a half an inch. Locally heavy rainfall possible… Rain early (in the evening)… then remaining cloudy with showers late. Low around 65F. Winds NE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 70%.” [Weather.com]

New job: Dog daycare playroom attendant — “If you are a hard and reliable worker looking for a fun and rewarding job, we encourage you to apply. We are also offering a limited-time signing bonus to those who can reliably commit to the job for at least 4 months.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

City responds to recent overdose increase — “The number of opioid overdoses rose about 36% in Alexandria during 2020, reflecting statewide and national spikes in both fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. According to data collected by the Alexandria Police Department and the Alexandria Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services, there were 105 total opioid overdoses, both fatal and non-fatal, in 2020. In 2019, there were 73 total opioid overdoses in the city.” [Alex Times]

Bicyclist struck and killed by vehicle in Alexandria area of Fairfax County — “The incident happened around 11:45 a.m. at Telegraph Road and Franconia Road in the Alexandria area. Police say the driver remained at the scene.” [FOX 5 DC]

First Thursday rescheduled to June 10 in Del Ray — “The Del Ray Business Association presents First Thursday: Unmask Your Superhero on Thursday, June 10 from 6 p.m. to dusk along Mount Vernon Avenue. The event features a wide range of activities that promote community while supporting the Dunbar Alexandria-Olympic Boys & Girls Club.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Scattered showers and thunderstorms (during the day). Storms may contain strong gusty winds. High 82F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 64F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Seasonal marina dock assistant ($18.99 hourly) — “The Seasonal Marina Dock Assistant works on the City’s Historic Waterfront at the City Marina. The City Marina provides for recreational and commercial boating operations while receiving more than 2,000,000 visitors annually. The Marina Dock Assistant performs journey-level tasks of more than ordinary difficulty and must be able to perform heavy physical labor safely and efficiently.” [Indeed]

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