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The ALX Dog Walk at Oronoco Bay Park is on Saturday, April 20, 2024 (via Facebook)

Here’s a roundup of all the events, live music, and entertainment happening around Alexandria this weekend.  Enjoy! 

Are you organizing an event? Submit events to ALXnow.

Friday, April 19

Things To Do

Live Music & Entertainment

City of Alexandria

Saturday, April 20

Things To Do

Live Music & Entertainment

City of Alexandria

Sunday, April 21

Things To Do

Live Music & Entertainment

City of Alexandria

Image via Facebook

Ryan Belmore is an award-winning news publisher, editor, and journalist. Born and raised in Rhode Island, he now resides in Alexandria with his wife and two rescue dogs. He was recently appointed to the City of Alexandria’s Board of Zoning Appeals and previously served on the City’s Commission For The Arts. Email listings and events to Ryan at [email protected]. Follow Ryan on Instagram at whatsupalexandria.

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Good Tuesday morning, Alexandria!

⛈️ Today’s weather: Showers are possible from 2pm to 5pm, followed by potential showers and thunderstorms after 5pm. Expect mostly cloudy conditions and a high of 78°F. Winds will remain calm before turning south at 6 mph in the afternoon, with a 30% chance of precipitation. Tonight, showers and thunderstorms may continue, bringing cloudy skies, a low of 59°F, and a south wind at 6 mph. The chance of precipitation increases to 50%.

🚨 You need to know

Solar panels (file photo)

Tired of paying such a high electric bill? From now until June 30, the city is holding its annual Solarize Alexandria program that provides residents a free assessment for their property to install home solar power systems.

“During this period, Alexandria homeowners can sign up to receive a free solar satellite assessment of their property and discounted prices from vetted solar system installers,” the city said in a release.

According to the city:

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Solarize Alexandria! Solarize Alexandria is part of the broader Solarize Virginia program, a grassroots, community-based outreach initiative managed by the state non-profit Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP). LEAP provides ongoing customer support and education throughout the Solarize process.

Find out more at solarizeva.org.

📈 Monday’s most read

The following are the most-read ALXnow articles for Apr 8, 2024

  1. Notes: City cancels eclipse viewing party in Old Town, but there’s another party at Ben Brenman Park (6127 views)
  2.  Alexandria’s Planet Fitness evacuated after emailed bomb threat (1702 views)
  3. Police: Man released after getting stuck in harness on Seminary Road Bridge over I-395
    (1568 views)

📅 Upcoming events

Here is what’s going on today in Alexandria, from our event calendar.

  • No events today. Have one to promote? Submit it to the calendar.
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Cleanup planned at Windmill Hill Park (image via City of Alexandria)

April is Earth Month and anyone hoping to contribute locally can help out at an event in Old Town next week.

The City of Alexandria Department of Transportation and Environmental Services Stormwater Management Division is hosting a stream clean-up event at the shoreline of Windmill Hill Park on Saturday, April 6, from 9-11 a.m.

Participants will meet at S. Union Street and Gibbon Street for a sign-in and event briefing before walking to the shoreline.

According to the release:

The clean-up event is held during Earth Month, celebrated annually during the month of April. Eco-City Alexandria will be hosting events throughout the month to extend Earth Day celebrations and to continue its commitment to sustainability. Earth Month is recognized as an opportunity to empower residents to make a positive impact on the environment.

The City will provide gloves, bags, and first aid kits during the events. Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately, in long pants and covered footwear, and to bring water.

To register for the event or request more information, contact nolan.compton@alexandriava.gov.

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An investigation found an error in Arlington County’s Water Pollution Control Plant caused a fish kill event in Four Mile Run yesterday (Wednesday).

The City of Alexandria said in a release that reports started coming in around 10 a.m. of dead fish washing up along the shores of Four Mile Run between Mount Vernon Avenue and Route 1.

“Witnesses reported a significant number of dead fish alongside live fish, reptiles, and waterfowl,” the release said.

An investigation said the cause was identified as an error at the Water Pollution Control Plant.

“An investigation found a manual operation error at the County’s Water Pollution Control Plant that released higher-than-usual levels of sodium hypochlorite into the waterway late on March 12 as part of the regular wastewater treatment process,” the release said. “A correction was made in less than 90 minutes. As of 2 p.m. [Wednesday], water quality levels in Four Mile Run are returning to normal.”

The release noted that there is no ongoing threat to Four Mile Run and officials at the plant will “review and refine procedures” in coordination with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

“Arlington officials are addressing the Plant’s procedures in coordination with DEQ,” the release said.

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Volunteers helping to clean Holmes Run (image via Transportation & Environmental Services)

A small but dedicated team of volunteers spent last Saturday clearing trash from Holmes Run near the Charles Beatley Library.

The City of Alexandria celebrated twelve volunteers who helped in the “first annual National Stormwater Day” cleanup.

“Twelve volunteers donated their time to help pick up trash from a portion of Holmes Run behind Charles Beatley Library,” the release said. “A total of 13 bags were collected, weighing approximately 65-100 pounds.”

The release said most of what was recovered from the creek was glass and plastic.

“The bags were filled with a variety of items, most commonly glass and plastic bottles,” the release said. “The most interesting item picked was a metal folding chair.”

More stream cleanup events are planned throughout 2024.

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Alexandria Natural Resources Manager Rod Simmons (courtesy photo)

Alexandria Natural Resources Manager Rod Simmons has been a prominent voice for environmental concerns around the city in recent years, but Simmons told ALXnow that battles behind the scenes have led him to retire after 27 years in city government.

Simmons, a city employee with the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs, was at the center of controversies related to Taylor Run and other projects.

He was among the earliest voices warning the Taylor Run Stream Restoration project could do more harm than good. Simmons and critics of the project got into a back-and-forth over soil samples and other concerns about the project.

The city spent $1.8 million on the project and ended up with very little to show for it after the City Council said the plan needed further study and was eventually scaled back.

But those objections came with considerable backlash within city government, Simmons said, and he said it’s made it difficult to fulfill his role advocating for Alexandria’s natural resources.

“In the last two years, the workplace culture and conditions have become intolerable, from my perspective,” Simmons told ALXnow. “The problem is continual. I’ve been in opposition to the city’s agendas for increasing high-density development. All these projects, really over the last seven years, have come online and descended on the landscape of the city.”

While Simmons said many of those projects have been built in industrial zones or haven’t directly replaced natural resources, they’ve still put an increasing strain on the city’s natural resources.

“Development has a huge impact on waterways,” Simmons said. “We’ve got these edge cities, like the Hoffman Town Center area and Carlyle area, that put a huge burden on the little natural landscape like Hoof’s Run and African American Heritage Park, for instance. It stresses those areas and the wildlife that remains there. It contributes a significant amount of pollution to those streams and the Potomac River.”

Just this year, a lawsuit is forcing Alexandria to take a somewhat unconventional approach to combat its Potomac River pollution. Simmons said the increasing density is putting more cars on the road, eventually leading to more pollutants in Alexandria’s creeks and rivers.

Simmons also said usage of artificial turf, as was approved earlier this year at Eugene Simpson Park, is fundamentally at odds with the goals of protecting natural resources.

“Things like artificial turf and the forever plastics that come from that, those toxic chemicals that come from the rubberized pellets,” Simmons said. “Add the fact that you have to lay down enormous beds of gravel; it’s impervious surface because all the water goes into the already burdened storm drains is rushing into streams.”

Once those fields need replacing, too, Simmons said the city will be left with another pollution problem.

“There’s no recycling for those artificial fields; they end up being dumped in natural areas or wetlands,” Simmons said. “There’s no recycling for that, just like we realized there’s no recycling for anything else: it was a big lie by the plastics industry.”

While developments in Alexandria frequently cite LEED certification and energy efficiency, Simmons said that doesn’t matter much in terms of mitigating climate change.

“[The concern is] impervious surface, heat island index, the concrete jungle, all that sort of thing,” Simmons said. “We still have all the cars on the road. It’s too little, too late. I think the intentions are good, but they’re trying to make lemonade with something that’s not going to work. Smart Growth is an oxymoron.” Read More

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Mussels (photo via Gil Ndjouwou/Unsplash)

Among the results of a settled lawsuit between the City of Alexandria and the Potomac Riverkeeper Network is a project to add thousands of freshwater mussels to the Potomac River.

City Council member Sarah Bagley gave the Council an update last week from the Waterfront Commission where she said the mussels — which are filter feeders and help clean the water –would be added to the river as part of the city’s remediation efforts.

“One element of that settlement is an environmentally beneficial project, and that project is going to involve mussels being introduced into the Potomac,” Bagley said.

Bagley said the exact location hasn’t been determined yet.

“Exactly where hasn’t been determined yet, the Department of Fish and Wildlife will be guiding that decision,” Bagley said, “but it’s an interesting part of the settlement that I thought I would highlight for the community: that we’re going to have local mussels in our waters.”

The Alexandria Times reported earlier this year that the plan is to provide $300,000 to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to introduce 20,000 freshwater mussels sometime in early 2024.

Image via Gil Ndjouwou/Unsplash

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Taylor Run (Photo via City of Alexandria)

The City of Alexandria spent $1.8 million on its Taylor Run and Strawberry Run restoration projects and, at a meeting earlier this week, Mayor Justin Wilson said the city has virtually nothing to show for it.

That $1.8 million went into the project before shovels ever hit the dirt. The plan was to combat erosion and improve the flow of the waterway, but the city’s design attracted considerable pushback from some local environmental activists and city watchdogs who said the plans could do more harm than good to the stream. Critics also noted that pollution levels in the stream were being calculated based on modeling rather than testing in the actual waterways.

Over months of community engagement, city staff and critics of the project went back and forth on the projects. When the project finally went to City Council, the Council voted to send the project back for further study and analysis.

When those plans for the stream restoration returned earlier this year, city leaders were frustrated that the projects had been scaled back considerably. To add insult to injury: the city was forced to return $3 million in grant funding it had received for the project.

Now, the full bill of the aborted Taylor Run and Strawberry Run stream restoration projects has come due to the tune of $1.8 million.

“That’s $1.8 million that we spent on these two projects and we essentially have nothing for that,” Wilson said at a City Council meeting. “We had a lot of planning, a lot of meetings, a lot of discussion with the community, and that’s great, but we don’t have a lot else.”

Wilson said that bill is a reminder of the expense that goes into public engagement, something he said the City should be more aware of when approaching future projects.

“I note that as we think about how we design public processes in the future, as we think about how we approach engagement, that these things have a cost,” Wilson said. “In this case, they had a very significant cost to our taxpayers. This is in addition to grants that we returned and other things. There is a significant opportunity cost.”

The new plans for Strawberry Run mostly focus on spot stabilization of erosion rather than a comprehensive project.

“We ended up in an okay place, but we could have ended up in a better place,” Wilson said. “Nevertheless, that’s where we are.”

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Spilled paint could be seen in the waterways of Alexandria’s North Ridge neighborhood on Saturday.

That morning, the Alexandria Fire Department was alerted of a “white-cloudy substance in the waterways visible from the walking trail” near Monticello Park off Old Dominion Boulevard, according to an AFD press release.

Investigators determined the substance to be latex primer paint dumped in a storm drain. AFD canvassed the neighborhood for witnesses and determined the spill to be accidental.

“The area neighborhood was canvassed for witnesses and additional information,” the city said in a release. “The investigation determined the spill was accidental. Due to the nature of the substance, natural flushing of the waterway is the remediation approach. Water supply was not impacted.”

An investigation found the source of the paint to be a storm drain next to a home under renovation at the intersection of Crestwood Drive and Old Dominion Boulevard.

“An investigation done by the Hazardous Material team and the Fire Marshal’s Office (FMO) determined the source of the substance originated from a storm drain at the intersection of Crestwood Drive and Old Dominion Blvd,” the release said.

Paint was also dumped into Four Mile Run in Arlington in mid-July, although it ran down into Alexandria.

AFD encourages citizens to report environmental concerns by contacting Alex311 or reporting on the City’s website.

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Daniel Ford (on right) and Victor Zabielski fly fishing at Four Mile Run. (Staff photo by James Cullum)

Alexandria is safe after a dumping incident in Four Mile Run in Arlington.

Arlington advised residents to stay out of stream runs along popular parks like Bluemont Park, Barcroft Park and the Shirlington dog park after a roll-off dumpster fell into a storm drain near N. Ohio Street, according to ARLnow.

“According to Arlington the discharge was from a roll-off dumpster at a single home construction site,” City spokesperson Camila Olivares said. “In the process of moving the dumpster, white liquid drained out into the right of way and nearby storm drain. They believe the product is likely paint.”

Olivares added, “Given the distance from the outfall to the County / City line, the plume will not be seen in Four Mile Run in Alexandria.”

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