Newsletter

It was another busy week in Alexandria.

For the second week in a row, our top story was on T.C. Williams High School teacher Gregory Elliott, whose D.C.-based go-go band Experience Unlimited was featured at the Oscars.

There are less than three weeks before the June 8 democratic primary, which will determine the candidates for lieutenant governor, the 45th District in the House of Delegates, Alexandria Mayor and City Council.

Speaking of elections, this week we covered two election forums hosted by the Seminary Ridge Civic Association. Much of the conversations were focused on community engagement, colocating affordable housing on school grounds and the Seminary Road diet. Thursday night’s forum also introduced candidate Darryl Nirenberg, who is a lone Republican contender facing off against a mostly Democrat slate of candidates in November.

In our weekly poll, we tried to settle the appropriate name for the Parker-Gray/Braddock neighborhood. What should it be called? Of the 339 votes tallied, 53% (180 votes) favor Braddock, 32% (110 votes) call it Parker-Gray and 14% (49 votes) use both interchangeably.

Election stories

Important stories

Top stories

  1. Go-go music star-turned Alexandria teacher ‘Sugar Bear’ in the spotlight after Oscars shoutout
  2. Inova wants to convert Alexandria Hospital into residential properties
  3. Racism, sexism and favoritism reported within the Alexandria Fire Department
  4. Here’s how expensive it is to rebrand Alexandria City High School and Naomi L. Brooks Elementary School
  5. PHOTOS: King Street-Old Town Metro Access Improvement Project nears completion
  6. Amazon Fresh supermarket planned for former Shopper’s Food Warehouse in Potomac Yard
  7. Local diner franchise pinches former crab shack in Old Town, crawling toward fall opening
  8. Officials find Cameron Run Regional Park at fault for chlorine spill in Lake Cook
  9. Catholic Charities hopes to turn vacant Carlyle restaurant into workforce training kitchen
  10. Here’s the order that City Council candidates will appear on the ballot for the June 8 democratic primary
  11. ARHA aims to convert Old Town public housing properties to resemble the mixed-use ‘Lineage’ development

Have a safe weekend!

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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.

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Morning Notes

Alexandria among areas with highest median income in Virginia — “According to a recent study by SmartAsset, residents in Alexandria are among the highest earners in Virginia. The analysis was completed as part of the company’s study on the places with the most purchasing power, and cost of living was factored into the calculations.” [Alexandria Living]

Target, Walmart, BJ’s, Costco: Virginia stores end masks for vaccinated — “BJ’s Wholesale Club, Starbucks, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Trader Joe’s will also no longer require masks inside stores. Initially, Target and Walmart had been among numerous establishments in a holding pattern after last week’s announcements.” [Patch]

‘The Physical Therapy Zone’ expands operation — “We just knocked a hole in the wall and expanded into the suite next door.” [Gazette]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High around 80F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph… Clear (in the evening). Low 56F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]

New job: Bartenders — “Here at Doyle’s Outpost, we are looking for a great team who will “change the game” with us while providing elevated service each and every day while making lasting connections with our guests! We are searching for exceptional, motivated, charismatic and genuine people, who can work smart and thrive under pressure, all with a smile. Get in on the ground floor of this exciting opportunity.” [Indeed]

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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.

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After reports of dead fish and birds along the banks of Lake Cook, officials have investigated and found high levels of chlorine contaminating the lake.

According to Raytevia Evans, senior public information for the Alexandria Fire Department, a HAZMAT team on site confirmed high levels of chlorination.

“We received notification yesterday evening about a visible fish kill and oil-like substance on Lake Cook” Evans said. “We sent out our HAZMAT team and fire marshal’s office to investigate. They are the ones who responded that there were high levels of chlorination detected.”

Images posted in the Bring Integrity Back to Alexandria Facebook group showed dead herons, catfish and more along the banks of the lake.

The lake is immediately adjacent to Cameron Run Regional Park, a water park planned to reopen this summer.

Staff at Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority said park management is currently on scene as officials continue to investigate.

James Cullum and Vernon Miles contributed to this story. Map via Google Maps

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