Newsletter

Work is scheduled to start next month on one of Alexandria’s more bizarre projects: putting a set of historic ship hulls recovered in Old Town back underwater.

Ben Brenman Park Pond (4800 Brenman Park Drive) near Cameron Station will be playing the part of Davy Jones’ Locker for the project. The city is hosting a meeting on-site next week to discuss the project.

“The public is invited to attend a Community Pre-Construction Meeting about the upcoming project to place the Robinson Landing Site historic ship timbers in Ben Brenman Park Pond,” the city said in a release. “The meeting will be held on Tuesday, April 19, 5:30 p.m. at Ben Brenman Park at the maintenance access point on the pond along Deer Run Court.”

After the ships were uncovered in 2018, they were kept in tanks of water to prevent the wood from decaying. The timbers keep their shape when submerged but if the wood dries out they could crumble. Some pieces of the largest ship have been undergoing restorative treatment and study at Texas A&M, but timbers from the other two ships have been taking up space in a DASH bus facility since their discovery.

In an earlier meeting, City Archaeologist Eleanor Breen said Ben Brenman Park Pond was chosen as having the least risk of contamination or damage to the frames while also being the easiest to access. Breen said signage will be added to the park explaining the history of the ship fragments. Meanwhile, a study of a potential waterfront museum is scheduled to start later this year and could be a permanent home for at least one of the ship hulls.

The city release said fieldwork at the park is expected to run from May 2 to May 27.

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Ewald Park, image via Google Maps

Ewald Park is in notoriously rough shape, but the City of Alexandria is looking for grants to start revitalizing the Duke Street park.

At a City Council meeting scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday), the Council will consider a grant application (Item 14) to the 2022 Land & Water Conservation Fund in an effort to help finance the park revitalization originally approved in 2015.

A report from 2015 details the pretty sorry state of the 3.9-acre park.

“Today the park features a playground, basketball court, swimming pool (closed), and open field,” a city report from 2015. “It previously held tennis courts, though they were removed in the
early 2000’s. The former tennis area, pool and playground sit high on a hill and are not well seen from the Duke Street. The topography and hidden areas of the park have contributed to on-going safety concerns in the park, as frequently noted by the Alexandria Police Department.”

The report said that a pool in the park opened in 1969 but closed in 2012 because it was so lightly used, despite being the only pool on the west side of the city at the time. The existing playground is hidden behind the pool house and features outdated equipment and is inaccessible to people with disabilities.

There is a field at the site frequently used for casual soccer games, but there are no programmed games at the site.

“The City and its affiliates do not program the field, rather it is a site that players know to go to for unscheduled recreation,” the report said. “The field is in poor condition due to its heavy use and lack of proper irrigation and drainage.”

The plan the city is seeking grant funding for would transform much of the park space. The park would get a second basketball court with the possibility of added lighting. The dusty open field would be renovated with new turf and added irrigation, with a possibility of using synthetic turf and adding lighting. The closed pool would be replaced with two new multi-use courts.

The current decrepit playground would be replaced with a new forested area, while the former tennis court would be replaced with a more modern playground. The park would have new pedestrian access and better parking.

Photo via Google Maps

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Witter field, photo via Google Maps

To help neighbors tired of ball-related destruction, Alexandria is planning to add some new nets to a field just off Duke Street.

Alexandria is planning to put up some towering new netting around the Witter Recreational Fields (2660 Witter Drive).

“The proposed netting will extend above the existing six-foot fence an additional twenty-four feet for a total height of thirty feet,” the staff report said. “The netting provides additional safety to the adjacent right-of-way and private property from aerial projecting balls associated with normal use of the athletic fields.”

The report said the netting was requested to provide some safety of park users and users of adjacent properties.

The new proposed netting is scheduled for review at the April 7 meeting of the Planning Commission.

Netting planned around Witter field (image via City of Alexandria)

Photo via Google Maps

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Pickleball courts, via Frankie Lopez/Unsplash

Alexandria’s Park and Recreation Commission is deciding whether to add pickleball courts to more local tennis courts and is looking for public input on the decision.

At a virtual public hearing on Thursday, Feb. 17, the Commission hosting a public hearing to get public feedback on the proposal. The Commission is looking at where to put the new courts, as the funding has already been allocated for the needed infrastructure and court markings.

“The Park & Recreation Commission will provide a recommendation to staff regarding locations to expand pickleball court installations in the City,” the city said in a press release. “The Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities (RPCA) requested additional funding in FY2022 to provide infrastructure and court markings to provide more pickleball courts and improve the level of play for pickleball users. In response to the Department’s request, RPCA received $20,000 to expand pickleball facilities in FY2022.”

The project is budgeted for $20,000 with each location costing $4,000 to renovate.

A city report said that the city is already in the process of converting single-use ball courts into multi-use courts, with Lee Center Courts and Mount Vernon Court already having pickleball facilities added to the existing tennis courts.

“Pickleball has increased in popularity in the last several years,” the report said. “RPCA requested additional funding in FY2022 to provide infrastructure and court markings to provide more pickleball courts and improve the level of play for pickleball users.

The conversion would involve adding movable nets with new lines demarcating pickleball courts on each side of the tennis court.

The report said the following courts could get renovated for pickleball use:

  • Armistead L Boothe Park (four pickleball courts)
  • Chambliss Park (four pickleball courts)
  • Chinquapin Park (five pickleball courts)
  • Eugene Simpson Stadium Park (four pickleball courts)
  • Lee Center (four pickleball courts)

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. and can be attended via link on the city website.

Photo via Frankie Lopez/Unsplash

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Morning Notes

NOVA Parks Ice + Lights welcomes 50,000th visitor — “Ice & Lights in Alexandria was an all-new attraction for the public when it opened in 2019. New displays and attractions are added every year to keep it fresh and appealing.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]

Alexandria sees COVID cases surge, locals urged to reduce risks — “Those precautions, the city specified, include considering moving holiday celebrations virtual, testing, getting a booster shot and avoiding travel if possible.” [WUSA9]

COVID-19 booster shots: where to find them in Alexandria — “Boosters available in Alexandria help protect against omicron and delta variant infections, and lessen the symptoms if you do get sick.” [Patch]

Jury convicts marijuana trafficker of drug-related murder — “A federal jury convicted an Alexandria man yesterday of murdering another man in retaliation for robbing him of an ounce of marijuana, and trying to convince a witness to lie for him to cover it up.” [Department of Justice]

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The Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities has announced a suite of winter activities for locals of all ages starting early next year.

The city has a seasonal rotation of activities, with everything from full sports and activity camps to lighter day-activities. The age range of the activities varies wildly. The full list is available online and broken down by category.

Registration is scheduled to start on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 9 a.m. for city residents. Registration launches Friday, Dec. 17, for nonresidents. Interested parties can register online or in-person at the Registration and Reservation Office at Lee Center (1108 Jefferson Street).

“Get ready for a flurry of fun this winter with a variety of in-person options for all ages, plus new virtual programs,” the city said in a press release. “Winter registration applies to classes, leagues and activities occurring from January through April. All current health guidelines for staff and participants will be met, including use of face masks and enhanced cleaning between activity periods.”

Photo via City of Alexandria/Facebook

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Safe! An Old Town run. Old Town businesses beat Del Ray businesses in the third-ever Del Ray vs. Old Town Softball Battle at Simpson Field on June 30, 2021. (Courtesy Elijah Walter Griffin Sr/Griffin Vision Photography)

Among the changes being considered for Eugene Simpson Stadium Park is a refit of the field itself to take it from natural grass and dirt to astroturf.

Park enthusiasts typically have mixed feelings on astroturfing, but the change would make the park more usable in various weather conditions and comes as the city is facing a dire shortage of park space for various sports.

The change is part of a broader plan to upgrade the park, adding new trails across the park space, new bleachers, an expanded parking lot and more. The dog park at the field is also slated to undergo significant renovation, with construction on that project scheduled to start next spring.

The Park and Recreation Commission is scheduled to hold a virtual public hearing on Thursday, Nov. 18, to discuss the option to convert the two Eugene Simpson Stadium Park baseball fields to synthetic turf.

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Morning Notes

Board members who backed sale of River Farm resign — “Five board members of the American Horticultural Society (AHS) who backed the sale of historic River Farm, including its chair, have resigned, the organization said Thursday. Their departure from the evenly split governing body leaves only members who have opposed selling the Potomac River property that once formed part of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” [Washington Post]

Alexandria Love Your Pet Day Festival is on Sunday — “One week to go until the Alexandria Love Your Pet Day Festival! Join us next Sunday, Oct. 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the spacious Oronoco Bay Park for this free event with something for everyone — including well-behaved, leashed pets! Enjoy amazing performances, meet adoptable animals, visit fantastic vendors or grab a drink in the Port City beer garden!” [Facebook]

Alexandria Health Department hosting free flu shot clinic Saturday — “The Alexandria Health Department will host a free flu shot clinic on October 2, from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., inside Francis C. Hammond Middle School (4646 Seminary Road). Parking will be available. Flu shots will be provided at no cost, and proof of residency or insurance will not be required. The clinic will be open to adults and children ages 6 months and older. The Alexandria Health Department encourages all members of the community to get a flu vaccine. The higher dose version of the flu shot for seniors will not be available at the clinic, but may be available through a pharmacy or healthcare provider.” [City of Alexandria]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny. High 72F. Winds light and variable… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 52F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Deputy sheriff — “Deputy Sheriffs primarily work in a direct supervision adult detention center, housing approximately 350 adult inmates. Deputies manage inmate living units, handle inmate discipline, respond to inmate requests, supervise inmates, and resolve problems. Other responsibilities of a Deputy Sheriff outside of the Detention Center include service of court papers; warrant execution, courthouse/courtroom security, prisoner transportation, community engagement and general law enforcement duties.” [Governmentjobs.com]

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Multiple violent charges against a 25-year-old Fairfax County man have been dismissed in court, although the man remains in the Alexandria jail without bond after allegedly assaulting police during his arrest.

The suspect was arrested on July 27 for carjacking, assault and battery, brandishing a firearm and and assaulting police.

The victim reported to police that the suspect pointed a gun at her head, pistol-whipped her with a handgun and forced his way into her car at Armistead L. Boothe Park in the Cameron Station neighborhood, according to a search warrant. There was also a male passenger in the car with the victim, and both of them told police that they bailed out of the car a short time later.

The female victim also told police that the suspect also stole $400 in cash. The handgun allegedly used in the incident was discarded in a back yard in the 200 block of Medlock Lane, and it was later found by a resident and turned in to police, according to the affidavit.

The suspect was arrested less than a mile away outside the 7-Eleven at 30 S. Reynolds Street. He was later positively identified by the female victim.

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Morning Notes

Gun used in murder belonged to suspect’s bondsman — “The homicide of Alexandria resident Karla Dominguez last summer sparked widespread uproar because her alleged murderer, Ibrahim Bouaichi, had been released on bond in April despite having been indicted for allegedly raping and assaulting Dominguez in October 2019. Now, new information reveals that the bondsman who posted bail for Bouaichi knew him beforehand and that both the vehicle and weapon Bouaichi used to commit the murder belonged to the bondsman, Man Nguyen.” [Alex Times]

Twenty years later, residents recall the September 11 attacks — “Two residents had been on the plane that hit the Pentagon and many more residents had friends and other people from their lives who had been killed or impacted by the attacks on New York City and the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania. On Friday, Sept. 14, the city held a candlelight vigil at Market Square, with residents filling the area in front of city hall and overflowing onto King, Cameron and Fairfax streets.” [Alex Times]

River Farm negotiations continue despite developer interest — “The Northern Virginia Conservation Trust is claiming that a developer has given a letter of intent to purchase River Farm. The American Horticultural Society, which listed River Farm for sale in 2020, said it continues to only consider an offer from NOVA Parks.” [Patch]

Wegmans announces May 2022 opening in Carlyle — “Wegmans is building an 81,000 square-foot store in Alexandria just west of Hoffman Town Center off of Eisenhower Avenue. The grocery store at Carlyle Crossing is part of a mixed-use project on a 5-acre site.” [Alexandria Living]

Patrick Henry Recreation Center offers co-ed pick-up indoor futsal —  “All games have a running 8-minute clock, three goals to win, or the team ahead after 8 minutes stays on the floor. This drop-in program is free for City of Alexandria residents.Teens ages 12 to 15 meet every Saturday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. Adults ages 16 and up meet every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.” [Facebook]

Today’s weather — “Mainly sunny. High 78F. Winds NNW at 10 to 20 mph… A mostly clear sky (in the evening). Low 56F. Winds light and variable.” [Weather.com]

New job: Watch officer — “The Watch Officer oversees the Department of Emergency & Customer Communications (DECC) call center operations and provides supervision to the department’s Public Safety Communications Supervisors. This position is responsible for monitoring, analyzing and assessing the potential impact that local and national threats may have on City-wide systems and resources; maintains communication with stakeholders including departmental staff, local and regional emergency communications officials, and the public; manages the department’s quality assurance program and accreditation program; and serves as the notification point-of-contact for information responsible for managing the Employee and Public Alerting System utilized by the City.” [Indeed]

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