It barely got more than a blip in the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority’s (NOVA Parks) new strategic plan, but the regional park organization said one of its near-term goals is starting to plan for Cameron Run Regional Park’s future.
Cameron Run Regional Park is a large regional park at 4001 Eisenhower Avenue known for the Great Waves Waterpark — and chlorine spillage — in the summer and the Winter Village in colder months. The water park has occupied a precarious situation in the city for years, though. In 2017, the City of Alexandria flirted with the idea of pulling the plug on the park and finding a different use for the park.
The lease was ultimately extended via unanimous vote, but that lease is set to expire in 2028.
The NOVA Parks strategic plan says the organization should work with the City of Alexandria to get a new plan in place for the park before that date. According to the plan:
Goal 4.6 — Engage with the City of Alexandria in planning the future of Cameron Run Regional Park
An objective heading under the goal indicates that the NOVA Parks should “engage [the] public in visioning the future of Cameron Run” in coordination with the City of Alexandria by 2025.
Planning for Cameron Run Regional Park comes at the end of the strategic initiatives. The document also outlines plans for projects in neighboring jurisdictions, such as upgrading the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Arlington.
Families and friends looking to celebrate are in for an annual holiday tradition. For the third year, Ice & Lights: The Winter Village At Cameron Run is open with light displays, Christmas trees and ice skating.
The winter village (4001 Eisenhower Avenue) opened in mid-November, and will shut down on Jan. 2. The ice skating, however, will remain open on weekends until Feb. 27. General admission to the park is $8 and ice skating is $12.
“It takes Cameron Run staff, NOVA Park volunteers, and contractors three months to install all of the lights and displays,” NOVA Parks said on its website. “A lot of hard work goes into preparing for this awesome show.”
This weekend, Cameron Run Regional Park reopened Winter Village, an annual transformation of the water park into a winter-themed experience complete with ice skating.
The theme for Winter Village this year is ‘Ice and Lights‘, with various lit-up displays around the village for gawking and taking photos.
Admission with one hour of skating is $22.03 and only available for purchase online. Admission to just the village part, sans skating, is $9.19. Children under 2 are admitted for free.
“Skating ticket sales have been significantly reduced in order to provide a safe experience on the ice,” Cameron Run Regional Park said on the Winter Village website. “Please be advised that spectators will be limited in the ice rink area. Only children under the age of 12 may have one chaperone in the ice rink are — benches are provided for putting on and removing skates only. All skate sessions include free skate rentals. There is no discount if you bring your own skates this year.”
The program is scheduled to run from Nov. 19 to Jan. 2, from 5-10 p.m. every day. The ice skating rink at the park will remain open until Feb. 27.
This coming Monday, September 6, is Labor Day and a number of city government offices and facilities will be closed.
The biggest event of the three-day weekend will be the day before Labor Day — Sunday, September 5. The annual Old Town Festival of Speed & Style will bring crowds to marvel at classic and beautiful rides along King Street.
City services will shift to a holiday schedule the next day. Trash collection will move to Tuesday, parking enforcement at metered spaces will be lifted, and it will be your last chance to enjoy public pools.
The city has listed the following closures and other changes planned for the week of September 6.
Resource Recovery: Residential refuse and recycling will not be collected September 6. Collection services will be delayed by one day during the week of September 6: Monday’s collection will be on Tuesday; Tuesday’s collection, on Wednesday; Wednesday’s collection, on Thursday; and Thursday’s collection, on Friday. Visit Resource Recovery for more information. The Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Collection Center (3224 Colvin St.) will be closed Monday, September 6.
Animal Shelter: The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (4101 Eisenhower Ave.) will be open weekend hours by appointment on September 6. To make an appointment, visit AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment or call 703.746.4774. For an animal emergency, call 703.746.4444.
Health Facilities: The Alexandria Health Department (4480 King St.), the Flora Krause Casey Health Center (1200 N. Howard St.) and the Teen Wellness Center at Alexandria City High School (3329 King St.) will be closed September 6.
Historic Alexandria: On September 6, the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum (105-107 S. Fairfax St.) will be open regular hours, from 1 to 5 p.m. All other City museums will be closed. For more information, visit alexandriava.gov/Historic and follow Historic Alexandria on social media or call 703.746.4554.
Hotlines: All emergency hotlines operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, including the child protective services hotline at 703.746.5800; the domestic violence hotline at 703.746.4911; the emergency services for mental health or substance abuse crisis hotline at 703.746.3401; the adult protective services hotline at 703.746.5778; and the sexual assault hotline at 703.683.7273.
Libraries: All Alexandria Library branches and the Alexandria Law Library (520 King St.) will be closed September 6. Visit the Alexandria Library website for more information.
Parking: On September 6, the Alexandria Police Department will suspend enforcement of parking restrictions at metered spaces, residential permit parking districts and other areas with posted parking time limits. This suspension of enforcement applies only to the restrictions at legal parking spaces and does not permit parking in any location normally prohibited (for example, no-parking zones, loading zones or spaces for persons with disabilities). Temporary no-parking signs will be enforced September 6.
Impound Lot: The City’s Impound Facility (5249 Eisenhower Ave.) will be closed September 6. The Impound Facility is closed every Saturday and Sunday and on all observed City holidays. Fees will continue to accrue on Saturdays and Sundays but not on holidays.
Recreation and Arts Centers: On September 6, the Charles Houston (901 Wythe Street) and Patrick Henry (4653 Taney Ave.) recreation centers will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Torpedo Factory Art Center (105 N. Union St.) will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Chinquapin Park Recreation Center & Aquatics Facility (3210 King St.) and all other facilities will be closed. Visit alexandriava.gov/Recreation for more information.
Outdoor Pools: Old Town Pool (1609 Cameron St.) and Warwick Pool (3301 Landover St.) will be open from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. September 6. Visit alexandriav.gov/Aquatics for more information.
Schools: All Alexandria City Public Schools and administrative offices will be closed Friday, September 3 and Monday, September 6.
Courts: On September 6, the Alexandria Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Alexandria Circuit Court, Alexandria General District Court, Alexandria Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and Court Service Unit (520 King St.) will be closed.
Department of Motor Vehicles: All Virginia DMV locations in Northern Virginia (including 2681 Mill Rd.) are open by appointment only. Many DMV services are available either online or by visiting dmvNOW.com/appt to schedule an appointment. Walk-in services are not available at this time.
Transit: On September 6, the Alexandria Transit Company’s fare-free DASH bus service will operate on a Sunday schedule. The free King Street Trolley will operate from King Street Metro to Alexandria City Hall/Market Square, with service every 15 minutes, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Visit dashbus.com for more information.
A week after an accidental discharge from Cameron Run Regional Park contaminated Lake Cook next door, the City of Alexandria said the cleanup process is finished and the lake will be safe for activities like fishing at the end of the week.
“According to the Fire Marshals Office, NOVA Parks has completed the cleanup process with the environmental contractor,” said Kelly Gilfillen, a spokesperson for the city, “[they] are are permitted to resume normal operations of the pool at this time, as it appears they have satisfactorily addressed the obvious issues they were cited for.”
Lake Cook is a designated fishing spot and currently, signs are posted saying that all fishing at the lake should be catch and release only. Gilfillen said the city intends to remove these signs by the end of the week to allow normal fishing activities to resume.
The fish kill in the lake was caused by an excess of chlorine that spilled into Lake Cook when an employee at Cameron Run Regional Park mistakenly used an outdated valve that drained a pool into the nearby water.
“Approximately 60,000 gallons of chlorinated water from the play pool entered the lake over the course of 9 to 12 hours through a piped connection that the operator thought connected directly to the sanitary sewer, rather than the lake facility,” the city said.
The city said approximately 150 fish and one bird were killed due to high chlorine exposure, though an photos from the incident and an ALXnow reporter indicate multiple dead birds at the lake.
Cameron Run Regional Park was issued a notice of violation for the illegal discharge and NOVA Parks told ALXnow the outdated valve will be removed from the park to prevent a future incident.
There was a valve in Cameron Run Regional Park that wasn’t meant to be used. But two days ago, it was, and the result was a chemical leak into the adjacent Lake Cook that’s had a fatal effect on the park’s wildlife.
“There are two different pump stations and filter systems at Cameron Run, one for the main wave-pool and one for the shallow children’s pool,” explained Paul Gilbert, Executive Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NOVA Parks). “Each system is a little bit different, both designed so they never put chlorinated pool water into the lake.”
But a relic of an earlier, outdated system remained at the park, and an employee mistook it for part of the filtration system.
“Someone who was not as familiar with the system found a valve that would allow them to drain that pool,” Gilbert said. “It’s a valve that hasn’t been used in over 15 years since we put in the new system. They didn’t understand what they were doing, but that pool water went into Lake Cook.”
Gilbert said NOVA Parks staff were on-site yesterday with the city’s fire marshal to examine the impact and figure out what happened.
“We disabled the valve that allowed the pool to be drained,” Gilbert said. “Today, we’re out there with the contractor cleaning up Lake Cook.”
Gilbert said the contamination was a fish kill.
“It’s a small lake, Lake Cook, so it’s an issue of concentration,” Gilbert said. “Right now, we’re focusing on clean up.”
According to Alexandria communications officer Andrea Blackford:
The Fire Marshals Office (FMO) issued a notice of violation for the illegal discharge of approximately 60,000 gallons of pool water that contained a strong odor of chlorine. The FMO also ordered NOVA Waterpark staff to make necessary repairs to the sanitary drains and other drains prior to refilling the pools. Additionally, a notice of violation was issued for the illegal discharge of a blue substance used as a stain on the pool deck.
It was a cold and news-filled week in Alexandria.
It all started with the report of two public safety incidents over the weekend — a serious car crash in Old Town and another shooting in the West End.
On the coronavirus front, Alexandria is now at 104 fatalities and 9,342 cases. Mayor Justin Wilson said that there is a vaccine shortage in the city, as the waitlist to get inoculated is at more than 25,000. The Alexandria Health Department reported to the Alexandria Times that about 2,000 doses are being distributed weekly.
Our top story this week was on the body that was found last Friday in the water at Holmes Run Trail by Cameron Run Regional Park. In an update, police told us that the death was not suspicious in nature.
Additionally, 630 people responded to our weekly poll. This week, we asked about the proposed Heritage development in Old Town. About 67% of respondents don’t think it’s appropriate for the neighborhood and 33% don’t have a problem with it.
In case you missed it, here are some important stories:
- New Flood Warning Signs Installed in Del Ray
- Initial and Continued Unemployment Claims Go Down in Alexandria
- Despite COVID-19 Contractor Impacts, Potomac Yard Metro Station on Track for Spring 2022 Opening
- City Council Accepts Plan to Double Stormwater Utility Fees
- Victory Center’s Condominium Redevelopment Headed to Planning Commission
Here are our top stories of the week:
- BREAKING: Body Found in the Water Near Cameron Station
- Photos: The Regal Potomac Yard Movie Theater is Being Torn Down
- Citizens Group Vilifies Heritage High Rise Project in Old Town
- Atlantis Pizzeria and Family Restaurant Closing on Jan. 24
- Alexandrians with Joe Biden Yard Signs Get Anonymous Letters Saying Biden is a Pedophile
- Police: Shots Fired in West End, Car Crash in Old Town Over Weekend
- Snow in Alexandria: Winter Weather Advisory in Effect Until 9 A.M. Tuesday
- BREAKING: Woman Gets Arm Amputated, Police Investigate if She Was Thrown From Car in West End
- Local Business in Hot Water with City Architects After Unauthorized Paint Job
- Alexandria Mayor Formally Requests Dominion Energy Step Their Game Up
- JUST IN: ACPS Announces No In-Person Schooling For Week of Feb. 1
Have a safe weekend!
Beyer Calls for Accountability in Wake of Capitol Siege — “The idea that we would just move on and not hold those responsible for this accountable is immoral.” [Twitter]
Stonebridge Sells Piece Of Oakville Triangle Site To Townhouse Builder — “Stonebridge is under contract to sell a 3.5-acre piece of the site to Winchester Homes to build an 84-unit townhouse project, Stonebridge principal Doug Firstenberg tells Bisnow.” [Bisnow]
City Warns Against Icy Roads — “With potential winter weather in the morning, roads may quickly turn icy. If you’re commuting Thursday morning, plan for extra travel time and use caution.” [Twitter]
Emergency Utility Assistance is Available — “If you were unable to pay your Virginia American Water or Washington Gas bills between March 1 and October 31, 2020 as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for assistance. Deadlines to apply are Jan 29 for water bills and Jan 31 for gas.” [Twitter]
Italian War Bride Turns 100 in Alexandria — “For Ada’s 100th, a few close friends and family, including daughter Daria, granddaughter Nathalie, and friend Betty, socially-distanced at The Hermitage. The party ensued with a sheet cake, flowers, gifts, a myriad of birthday cards from friends unable to attend, and video-chatting with her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson.” [Zebra]
City Seeks Feedback on Old Cameron Run Trail — “Ending Sun. Jan. 31: the feedback period to provide input on the proposed design for the Old Cameron Run Trail: alexandriava.gov/116739 The 0.53-mile shared-use path btwn Hooffs Run Dr. in Eisenhower East & S. Payne St. in the Southwest Quadrant. The City wants to hear from you!” [Twitter]
Today’s Weather — “Windy. Cloudy skies will become sunny in the afternoon. High 36F. Winds NNW at 20 to 30 mph. Higher wind gusts possible… Mainly clear early (in the evening), then a few clouds later on. Low 23F. Winds NW at 15 to 25 mph.”[Weather.com]
New Job: Private Piano Teacher — “Old Town Music School, an old fashioned preparatory Music School in Old Town Alexandria for over 20 years, is expanding and hiring a community of professional musicians/teachers who offer a nurturing, positive and personal approach to piano lessons. Students are beginning through advanced intermediate levels. Seeking out-going, motivated and fun teachers to join our faculty.” [Indeed]
Starting on Saturday (March 14) at 10 a.m., the park (4001 Eisenhower Avenue) will reopen with mini-golf, batting cages and more.
“Come join us as we kick off the Spring season with some outdoor fun!” the park management said in a Facebook post. “Enjoy the batting cages, mini-golf, and climb around Paradise Play starting Sunday, March 14th.”
There will also be opportunities to learn about the local wildlife at the park from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Those looking forward to the reopening of the Great Waves Waterpark will have to wait for Memorial Day weekend (May 23).
Photo via NOVA Parks
Skip the expensive restaurant tabs, avoid the usual bar scene. If you want to take your date somewhere romantic and unique in Alexandria this Valentine’s Day (Friday), below are a few ideas for local outings.
On the more romantic side, there’s Ice & Lights, an ice skating running at Cameron Run (4001 Eisenhower Ave) through the end of February. Access to the rink is $8 and skate rentals are $4. There’s also a nearby retail area and a pizza shop called Slice & Ice.
The Torpedo Factory Art Center is also a go-to for romantic local dates and, as a bonus for cheapskates, is free. In addition to the public art galleries and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum on the top floor, this Valentine’s Day the Torpedo Factory will host a reception for My Queer Valentine, a group exhibit that “offers a poignant look at love and relationships for LGBTQ+-identifying people.”
“There will be special Valentine’s themed reception on Friday, February 14, 7-10 p.m., with juror talk at 8 p.m.” the art center said in an event listing. “The evening features interactive performance art, a photo op at our kissing booth, and DIY art-making activities.”
It’s not for explicitly for Valentine’s Day, but if you and your partner want to “explore the body as a subject” there’s also an opening reception for an art exhibit called Human Condition on Sunday, Feb. 16 at the Athenaeum (201 Prince St). The reception is from 4-6 p.m. and is free to attend.
“This exhibition will be a visual exploration of the human condition, asking artists to capture what is it that makes a person,” the Athenaeum said in an event listing. “From the classic nude to abstract and impressionist treatments, to pieces that touch on the basic concept of humanity — a wide variety of interpretations will be included.”
If you’re the sporty type you and your partner might enjoy the Sportrock (5308 Eisenhower Avenue) rock climbing gym on the west end of the Eisenhower Valley.
While there are Valentine’s Day dinner packages before 9 p.m. at the new laser tag and arcade arena Doyle’s Outpost (4620 Kenmore Avenue), afterward there’s a post-dinner, adults-only arcade night where couples can split a $20 game card.
If you’re a parent and looking for a place to drop the kids off for a date night, a few locations around Alexandria will watch over the children while parents enjoy their evening out.
- Scramble (5412 Eisenhower Avenue) — an indoor playground across from Sportrock is planning to host children from 5-8 p.m. The session costs $25 and includes dinner.
- The Little Gym of Alexandria (291 S. Van Dorn Street) — the Little Gym is scheduled to host a “Parents’ Survival Night” from 6-9 p.m. with pizza and gym activities for children. Pricing is $25 for members and $35 for non-members
“Bring your current work in progress and join us in our second-floor event space,” the store said in a Facebook listing for the event. “We will enjoy chocolates, bubbly and the First Wives Club. Gather at 6 p.m. The movie will go on around 7 p.m.”
Are there other hidden gems around Alexandria that we missed on this list? Feel free to sound off in the comments below.