Newsletter

Alexandria is getting some state help to boost its stormwater resilience, though the city is at the lower end of the $7.8 million distributed in grants.

Governor Ralph Northam announced today that the $7.8 million would be going to 19 local projects across the Commonwealth that address flooding, sea-level rise, and extreme weather.

Alexandria, which has faced frequent and devastating flooding, will receive $115,200 in state funding to help “resilient stormwater capacity and [the] green streets project.” The grants are the first allocated through the state’s Virginia Community Flood Preparedness Fund.

“Virginians have experienced the devastating effects of flooding over and over again,” said Northam in a press release. “Without strong investments in resiliency, we will continue to see more of the same. The Community Flood Preparedness Fund grants are so important because they will jumpstart projects in more than a dozen localities, including some that have been impacted by recent disasters.”

The city is currently budgeted to spend $266.6 million in stormwater capacity projects over the next ten years, according to the FY 2022 budget (page 12). The city has also doubled its stormwater utility fee to help upgrade the city’s stormwater capacity.

The Eastern Branch of Elizabeth River Wetland and Floodplain Restoration took the lion’s share of the state funding — $3 million. Other projects in Richmond and Norfolk each won around $1 million in funding.

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Morning Notes

Alexandria announces $7.1 million in funding for first-time homebuyers — “The City of Alexandria is pleased to announce the availability of Sponsoring Partnerships & Revitalizing Communities (SPARC) funds to provide eligible first-time homebuyers with permanent financing for their home purchase. SPARC is a special allocation to local governments to reduce first trust mortgage interest rates.” [City of Alexandria]

Six ways to celebrate Oktoberfest in Alexandria — “Port City Brewing Company’s Hefeweizen brew is a Bavarian-style wheat hale pouring hazy golden with fluffy white foam, tinged with aromas of clove and spice with a softer note of ripe banana. Pick up a four-pack via curbside pickup or Port City On Demand, or sip at an outdoor table at the West End headquarters.” [Visit Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Showers likely along with a possible rumble of thunder in the morning, then partly cloudy late. High 72F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Slight chance of a rain shower. Low 53F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Play expert — “Play Experts provide engaging and educational services to children in their homes. A step above a typical caregiver, our Play Experts are trained in child development as well as positive-behavior systems. They understand the importance of developmentally appropriate and engaging play, as well as consistent structure and boundaries.” [Indeed]

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Morning Notes

City hosting The Fund for Alexandria’s Child virtual gala — “The Fund for Alexandria’s Child (The Fund) will host its second virtual gala on August 12, at 8 p.m. to benefit at-risk children and children in foster care. The public is invited to attend the interactive and inspiring event featuring a live auction, prizes, a raffle, entertainment, special guests and more, all from the comfort and safety of home.” [City of Alexandria]

Alexandria public pools update — “Memorial Pool will be closed on… Thursday, August 5 due to a maintenance issue. Warwick Pool and Old Town Pool remain open. Visit alexandriava.gov/Aquatics for operational hours at RPCA’s three outdoor pools.” [Twitter]

Alexandria introducing flood mitigation grant program — “On Tuesday, Aug. 10 at 7 p.m., the city plans to hold a virtual information session. This webinar will introduce the new Flood Mitigation Pilot Grant Program, meant to offer financial assistance to homeowners who have installed flood mitigation measures on their property.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Sunshine (during the day). High 88F. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 68F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Flag football and soccer coaches — “Kids in Motion is hiring sports coaches to teach super fun summer classes for kids ages 8-10 years old. Classes run during week days from 3;30-4:30 throughout Springfield and Alexandria. During sports classes, we coach kids using basic drills and work them up to scrimmaging. Payment is $40-50 per class depending on the location.” [Indeed]

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The Alexandria Black History Museum (902 Wythe Street) has just secured a substantial new grant that will help the museum digitize much of its collections.

The museum announced yesterday that it will receive a $243,356 grant from the IMLS Museum Grants for African American History and Culture. The grant will help fund digitization and interpretation for four of the museum’s archival collections.

Audrey Davis, director of the Alexandria Black History Museum, said in the press release that the museum will be digitizing documents, objects and other material from some of Alexandria’s most Black historic figures, such as:

The process will involve creating and updating catalog records along with scanning or photographing collection items.

One of the end-stages of the project will be an exhibition on Kendrix’s work, scheduled to open in spring 2023.

“We are excited and honored to be a 2021 recipient of the IMLS Museum Grants for African American History and Culture,” Gretchen Bulova, Director of the Office of Historic Alexandria, said a press release. “Support from IMLS permits us share Alexandria’s vibrant African American history with new and wider audiences as well as educate future generations about Black excellence and achievement in Alexandria.”

The goal is to develop an online exhibition space that will help explore themes of civil rights and equality in the city’s history.

“By digitizing these collections,” said Davis. “We will be able to provide increased public and research access, improve collections care by reducing future handling, and ensure best practices in collections management. It will also enable the Museum to develop future learning opportunities and programming for life-long learners, families, and school-age students.”

Courtesy ACPS

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Morning Notes

Alexandria announces modified out of school time school year recreation program — “The City of Alexandria will offer a modified Out of School Time Program (OSTP) for elementary school aged children enrolled in kindergarten through fifth grade for the 2021-22 school year. The after-school recreation program is scheduled for August 23, 2021 through June 10, 2022, from 2:30 to 6 p.m. at the Charles Barrett; Charles Houston; Mount Vernon; Leonard “Chick” Armstrong; Nannie J. Lee; Patrick Henry; and William Ramsay recreation centers, and at the Ferdinand T. Day; John Adams; and Douglas MacArthur elementary schools.” [City of Alexandria]

Council candidate Patrick Moran testifies for bringing back School Resource Officer funding — “Moran calls for the full implementation of body cameras for Alexandria Police Department (APD) officers and for corrective action to protect Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) students’ safety in 2021-22 School Year.” [YouTube]

Senior center gets upgrade — “St. Martin de Porres Senior Center on Taney Ave. has served Alexandria’s seniors for 45 years. During the pandemic, the site has been closed. This provided HomeAid Northern Virginia (HANV) with an opportunity to undertake a $44,000 upgrade of the facility.” [Zebra]

Today’s weather — “Mostly cloudy skies (during the day). High near 80F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph… Cloudy skies (in the evening). Low 61F. Winds SSE at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Floral clerk at Balducci’s — “As a Floral Clerk, some of your duties will include stocking the department with fresh flowers, potted plants, balloons, and other floral merchandise. You will design and create custom floral arrangements and make product recommendations for our customers’ special occasions. Your job will be to provide customers with exceptional customer service.” [Indeed]

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What a week in Alexandria. Here are some of the highlights.

The Alexandria City Council on Wednesday approved its Fiscal Year 2022 $770.7 million budget on Wednesday, and it includes a 2 cent real estate tax reduction. It’s the first time that’s happened in 15 years, and the budget also fully funds Alexandria City Public Schools’ request and includes a 1% raise for city and state employees.

But perhaps the biggest news of the week came with City Councilman Mo Seifeldein’s proposal to eliminate School Resource Officer funding from the budget. The effort was supported along by Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Councilman Canek Aguirre and Councilman John Taylor Chapman, who voted along with the group after failing to save the program in a last-minute effort.

Crime stories dominated many headlines, and Police Chief Michael Brown spoke with us this week about his department’s efforts to reduce destructive elements throughout the city. More from that interview will be published next week.

In this week’s poll, we asked about the importance of political endorsements for local candidates. Out of 222 responses, 48% (107 votes) don’t consider endorsements while voting; 39% (86 votes) said endorsements influence their decision; and 14% (29 votes) feel that endorsements hold a lot of sway.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Parking issues plague Potomac Yard, city looks to create residential parking district
  2. Knife pulled on woman who chases would-be thieves in Old Town
  3. D.C. man arrested after 130 mph chase leads to crash on Interstate 495
  4. Police: Armed robberies occur minutes apart in Del Ray and Arlandria
  5. Two injured in hit-and-run in Old Town, driver leaves car and flees on foot
  6. Too noisy? City Council is considering revising Alexandria’s noise ordinance
  7. Alexandria City Council to end School Resource Officer program at Alexandria City Public Schools
  8. Alexandria man arrested for firing gun at 7-Eleven door near Braddock Road Metro station
  9. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  10. JUST IN: Power outages across Alexandria as strong winds hit the city
  11. What’s next for GenOn and the rest of Old Town North?

Have a safe weekend!

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A new report from the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership showed that the 22314 zip code — Old Town and Carlyle — received more funding in business grants than the rest of Alexandria combined.

A breakdown of grant dollars by zip code showed that Old Town and Carlyle businesses received $3.5 million in grant funding. The next closest was the 22304 zip code in the West End, totaling $1.1 million.

That funding would be centered in Old Town isn’t too surprising, considering that’s where roughly 50% of the city’s businesses are located. AEDP President and CEO Stephanie Landrum told ALXnow last year that’s also where around 60% of the grant applications come from, despite an effort by the organization specifically to reach out to non-Old Town businesses and encourage them to apply.

The rest of Alexandria, combined, received $2.4 million in grants.

In total, AEDP distributed $6.4 million in federal and local grant funding to 648 Alexandria businesses.

The grants were fairly evenly split between male and female-owned businesses — 46% and 44% respectively — with 9% not identifying their gender and 1% identifying as trans or non-binary.

Roughly 74% of the funding went to businesses with less than 25 employees, which were a focus of AEDP’s grand campaign.

The report also showed that 47% of businesses that received grants were white-owned, followed by 21% as Asian-owned businesses. Black-owned businesses in Alexandria comprised 11% of grant funding, and Hispanic or Latino-owned only 8%.

Overall, the report also took stock of the pandemic’s devastating impact on local businesses:

  • 81% of small businesses reporting very-to-extreme disruptions to business operations
  • 77% of small businesses reporting year-over-year revenue declines
  • 9.9% Alexandria unemployment rate in April 2020 (an increase of 7.9% from April 2019)
  • $30.2M projected loss of business and consumer-based tax revenue in the City

Photos via AEDP

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Morning Notes

Alexandria Students Win C-SPAN Documentary Contest — “Five Alexandria students are winners in C-SPAN’s 2021 StudentCam competition. The national contest, in its 17th year, encourages middle and high school students to create short films on subjects of national importance. T.C. Williams High School’s Helen Russell, Alison Avelar, and Elena Gutierrez will receive $250 as honorable mention winners for the documentary, ‘Dear Mr. President: History, or Progress?’ about the renaming of schools, statues, and monuments.” [Zebra]

Some Alexandria Museums to Open in March — “The Alexandria History Museum will reopen on March 25, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and Alexandria Archaeology Museum will reopen on March 26, and Friendship Firehouse Museum will open on select Saturdays.” [Patch]

Textile Company ‘Tulusa’ in Running for $50K FedEx Grant — “I went from being a solopreneur to providing work for 10 people. In less than a year, we’ve sold and donated over 13,000 masks. After the initial burst of mask-making, I now employ four people, all of whom lost jobs because of the pandemic. And I want to keep growing, expanding our line to include wallpaper, melamine servingware and even more products that will make your home a beautiful place to be. That’s where you can help.” [Facebook]

Local Baker Starts Bake-at-Home Cookie Delivery Service — “It occurred to me there is something perfect about having a single warm cookie when you want it and on demand. What if I could make this dough and make it available for customers to order in small batches?” [Alexandria Living]

Last Days to Try Cozy Loft at Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap — “Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap, located at 401 E. Braddock Road, converted a 4,500 square-foot space on a second story of their restaurant into an Aspen-style resort. it gives diners a chance to experience a world away from their own. And the fact that reservations have been full many days speaks to how much the space means to customers.” [Zebra]

Today’s Weather — “Cloudy skies. Slight chance of a rain shower. High around 70F. Winds WNW at 5 to 10 mph… Partly cloudy during the evening followed by cloudy skies overnight. Low around 40F. Winds NW at 10 to 15 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: Driving Instructor — “Driving Instructor needed for OldTownDrivingSchool.com. We are looking for a patient, enthusiastic Driving Instructor to teach high school students. Must obtain a Virginia driving instructors license. Skills as a teacher or coach a plus.” [Indeed]

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As cases start to rise again nationwide and in Alexandria, the City Government Community Recovery Plan Team has put out a proposed coronavirus recovery plan that’s headed to the City Council tomorrow (Tuesday).

The recovery is put together into a series of 10 recommendations covering different parts of the community that were devastated by coronavirus.

The first recommendations mainly involved building digital access within the city. Recommendation one involved improving the quality and affordability of Internet access, primarily through a variety of partnerships. The city is working on a digital divide survey and outreach program to determine the scale of the problem. Recommendation two would expand the electronic documentation options.

The plan also recommends creating an inventory of minority and immigrant owned businesses in the city. While the city did put forward a business grant program in response to the pandemic, most of the applicants were from Old Town.

“(Alexandria) currently does not have an inventory of the minority and immigrant owned businesses in the City, making it difficult to ensure program implementation, such as the Back to Business Grants, reach these owners,” the recovery team said. “Project would develop a mechanism for collecting and mapping minority and immigrant owned businesses in order to provide greater assistance and track metrics.”

Other similar recommendations included expanding English as a second language services and more inter-departmental coordination on programs reaching out to underrepresented population groups.

Increasing access to affordable housing, one of the flashpoints for conflict during the pandemic, is also featured prominently in the plan.

“The demand for eviction prevention and housing stability assistance is expected to continue to grow with the gap in extended unemployment benefits, particularly after the CDC moratorium on evictions ends after 2020,” the recovery team said. “The City will potentially need to provide financial assistance through supplemental resources once CARES ACT and CDBG COVID grant funds are depleted.”

Among potential methods of assisting those facing eviction were:

  • Extensions of property tax due dates and other relief
  • Enhanced access to counseling and assistance to secure loan modifications
  • Local funding to emergency rental assistance programs
  • Enhanced landlord-tenant counseling and mediation
  • Continued support of DCHS’s Eviction Prevention and Housing Stability Assistance program

“Without continued assistance, the City’s most vulnerable populations face dire instability and potential loss of shelter,” the recovery team said.

Other recommendations in the plan included:

  • Financing food security programs
  • Increased bus frequency in high-demand areas
  • Establish “community wellness” hubs
  • Maintain advance supply of PPE for local health workers.

The recommendations of the plan are scheduled to be presented to the City Council meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) at 7 p.m.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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Morning Notes

Beyer Criticizes Trump’s Position on Michigan Governor Abduction Plot — “Trump has now responded. This is just sick.” [Twitter]

Voter Registration Deadline Approaching — “The deadline to register to vote in the November 3 elections or update voter registration information is Tuesday, October 13.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Makes Forbes’ Weekend Getaway List — “Alexandria tops the list of @Forbes‘ fall weekend getaways. See what they recommend.” [Twitter]

Alexandria Tutoring Consoritum Needs Tutors — “Once ATC confirms that you will be a tutor (we will send you an email), 2) complete the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) volunteer application.” [Alexandriatutors.org]

Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Announces Grant Winners — “The grant-funded projects, which must be completed by June 2021, will aim to accomplish one of a number of specific goals, according to a news release.” [Alex Times]

Today’s Weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). High 72F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Mainly cloudy (in the evening). Low 58F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New Job: District Manager — “District Managers are responsible for managing all facets of the optometric office operations within the designated district, including but not limited to; the daily operation of an office, including personnel management, budgetary controls, inventory controls while maintaining the highest level of patient service.” [Indeed]

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