Alexandria environmental planning staff say that the stream restoration at Taylor Run is necessary to combat the effects of climate change and improve flooding conditions.

On Tuesday night, staff from the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services and city consultants held a Zoom meeting to discuss the proposed $4.5 million restoration of the 1,900-foot-long project. The project falls within the city’s Chesapeake Bay TMDL Action Plan to reduce pollution, and staff say the area is experiencing the effects of climate change.

“We’re seeing more frequent storms,” said Jesse Maines, the stormwater management division chief for T&ES. “We actually walked the stream last weekend and you can see trees that were… falling into the stream with green leaves. What we’re talking about with this project is not only water quality we’re talking about water quantity and really stabilizing the stream so we don’t get just this continual degradation of the stream. We’re just seeing that it’s being continually impacted especially with climate change.”

Staff’s plan to clear the waterway near T.C. Williams High School and Chinquapin Park will result in the removal of 269 trees, of which they say 22% are dead.

“The City anticipates re-planting 2,280 trees for this stream restoration including oaks, maples, dogwoods, and sycamores,” according to the City’s stream restoration page. “An additional 7,200 shrubs are expected to be planted which include buttonbush, winterberry, and spicebush.”

Mayor Justin Wilson said that the city was successful in getting $2.255 million in grant funds from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) to “restore a badly-neglected and rare natural stream.”

“This effort will plant over 2,300 new trees, in perhaps the largest single tree planting initiative in recent City history,” Wilson told ALXnow. “This project is designed to increase and improve natural open space, reduce human impact and improve water quality. I look forward to engaging with our residents so that we can improve our stewardship of these natural spaces.”

The meeting did not alleviate the concerns of a local group led by former Vice Mayor Andrew MacDonald.

MacDonald, who chairs the Environmental Council of Alexandria, wants the city to meet with their advisor John Field, a fluvial geomorphologist and stream restoration expert. ECA has also started a GoFundMe campaign to pay Field $5,000.

“(John Field) understands what happens to streams when you manipulate and try to restore them,” MacDonald told ALXnow. “His preliminary view is that the City doesn’t really know what it is doing.”

City staff will soon release a Survey Monkey comment/response table, and the public comment period will end on October 23. Staff said that the next public meeting on the subject will be in November.

Photos via City of Alexandria 

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Declares Climate Emergency — “On October 22, the Alexandria City Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring a climate emergency, recognizing that climate change poses a grave threat to everyone in Alexandria and around the world.” [City of Alexandria]

City Council Passes Refugee Resolution — “The Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a resolution to notify the federal government of its continued support for resettling refugees in Alexandria. The action was taken in response to Executive Order 13888, issued on September 26, which provides that the federal government ‘should resettle refugees only in those jurisdictions in which both the State and local governments have consented to receive refugees.'” [City of Alexandria]

Next Weekend: Event for Little Historians — “Bring your little learners to the Alexandria Black History Museum for cultural stories and creative craft activities that introduce world history and folklore… All ages are welcome, but most suitable for children 3-5 years old.” [City of Alexandria]

Nearby: Belle View Fire Costs Millions — “Monday morning’s six-alarm fire at the Belle View Shopping Center began in the kitchen of one of the businesses in the center, the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department said in a Tuesday press release… The fire caused more than $5.8 million in damages.” [Covering the Corridor, Fairfax County Fire]

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Rising water levels are forcing one planned redevelopment of a historic property to move the building up a few feet.

The Mill, a building at the heart of Robinson Landing development along the waterfront, is being renovated and turned into a Southern-inspired restaurant. The city filing by local builder Murray Bonitt noted that the building was at one point used as a mess hall for Union soldiers during the Civil War. But the renovation will involve taking the building apart and putting it back together again a few feet above its current elevation.

“Google global warming, historic building, and waterfront sometime,” Duncan Blair, the attorney for the applicant, told Alexandria’s Waterfront Commission at a meeting this morning (Tuesday). “Buildings are being moved, disassembled, or raised to put them out of the flood plain. We saw this weekend there was high water as a result of the full moon. It’s a phenomenon we’re all going to have to deal with and that is the basis for the change of this building.”

Blair said the building will painstakingly reassembled brick by brick.

“The building is currently below the flood plain, and we can’t just lift it up because of the old structure,” Blair said. “You’ll probably read about it in a preservation magazine.”

As the building is put back together, Blair said the brick will be “flipped,” allowing the brighter interior to show on the exterior of the building.

The project is scheduled to be completed sometime in mid-2021.

Image via City of Alexandria

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