The Alexandria City Council on Tuesday will honor residents lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To date, 128 city residents have died from the virus. Council will also vote on a memorial at Rivergate City Park along the Potomac River in Old Town North. The memorial will be sponsored by the North Old Town Independent Citizens’ Association, the Old Town North Community Partnership and private donors.
Council will decide on the memorial at a legislative meeting on Tuesday, April 6.
“The memorial will be composed of small white flags, each representing an Alexandria resident who has died of COVID-19, that will be displayed from April 16 through June 21, 2021,” notes the Council resolution.
The memorial will be similar to the effort by Christ Church in Old Town. Small white flags were recently planted for the victims on the church grounds.
“(T)he COVID-19 pandemic has upended life as we know it, with its devastating effect on our physical and mental health, and on our social and economic wellbeing,” the city said in the resolution. “(I)n the City of Alexandria, we have lost approximately 128 beautiful souls to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The vast majority of deaths have been senior citizens, with 53 fatal victims in their 80s, 33 in their 70s, 20 in their 60s, 15 in their 50s, three in their 40s, three in their thirties and one resident in their 20s, according to the Virginia Department of Health.
The recreation of the Lighthouse of Alexandria might not be the city’s only ancient wonder soon.
The Carlyle neighborhood could be home to Alexandria’s own elevated park with what seems to be a Hanging Gardens of Babylon aesthetic.
Alexandria’s Park & Recreation Commission has docketed a public hearing at their Tuesday, March 18 meeting for the large park planned for the Carlyle neighborhood alongside a planned multi-family residential development. Community feedback on the proposal can be submitted via email until Wednesday, March 17, or at the public hearing.
Plans submitted to the city show the highest portion of the park at the western end, flowing on a 5% downward slope to a playground, amphitheater and an athletic field at the Alexandria Rewnew site.
A press release noted that the project will eliminate Eisenhower Circle, a proposal the City Council reluctantly agreed to move forward because at it became too expensive to cancel despite the negligible benefit.
According to a press release:
The Carlyle Plaza II / Carlyle Park Towers development approval includes four tower buildings with a four-to-five story, above-grade parking garage that will provide parking for all the buildings and is designed to accommodate a green roof which will be open to the public as open space. The rooftop open space will connect the development properties with the athletic field on the Alexandria Renew site (Limerick Field), creating more than 5 acres of integrated open space. The developer will also design and construct the parks created by the elimination of the Eisenhower Circle, referred to as North-Circle Park and South-Circle Park. The extensive rooftop public open space is connected to grade via a “transition zone” — a landscaped assemblage of overlooks, terraces and stairs that leads down to the South-Circle Park.
What a busy week in Alexandria.
Our top story this week was on Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Old Town shop fibre space on March 3. It was Harris’ first official visit outside of the White House since she was inaugurated, and she spoke about the American Rescue Plan with shop owner Danielle Romanetti.
Alexandria City Public Schools reopened for hybrid instruction this week, the first time since all school facilities were shut down on March 13. The school system reportedly welcomed back 1,200 special needs students in kindergarten through fifth grade. ACPS will open on March 9 for special education students, and then fully reopen its doors to hybrid learning for students on March 16.
On the coronavirus front, the number of deaths due to the virus has climbed to 123, and cases are at 10,404 since the first case was reported on March 11, 2020. Mayor Justin Wilson says the city is doing well keeping the numbers down, although with a vaccine waiting list exceeding 45,000 and 3,000 vaccine doses being given out weekly, distribution will continue to be slow.
More than 550 people responded to this week’s poll on the proposed new names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School. About 60% of respondents said they were happy with Alexandria High School, but not with Naomi Brooks Elementary School; 25% said they liked both names; 8% didn’t like either name; and 6% didn’t like the high school name and were happy with the elementary school name.
In case you missed them, here are some other important stories:
- City Could Help Turn Hotels Emptied by Coronavirus Into Affordable Housing
- Councilwoman Amy Jackson Argues With School Board Over MacArthur Elementary Construction Schedule
- City Council and School Board Budget Talk Gets Territorial Over School Resource Officers
Here are our most-read posts this week:
- Just In: Vice President Visits Old Town Shop Fibre Space
- Alexandria Wants Feedback on Building Spray Park in Del Ray
- El Chapo’s Wife to be Isolated in Alexandria Jail for One Month Per COVID-19 Distancing Rules
- Consultant Proposes Replacing Community Shelter with Mixed-Use Development
- Alexandria Advocacy Facebook Group Parodied in New Blog
- Superintendent Proposes New Names for T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary
- Patrick Moran, Son of Former Congressman Jim Moran, is Running for City Council
- ACPS Reopens its Doors and Evaluating Grading System for Traumatized Students
- Man Arrested for High-Speed Vehicle Race on I-495
- Meronne Teklu Enters City Council Race
- Neighborhood Spotlight: Old Town is the New Town
Have a safe weekend!
Photo via Peter Velz/Twitter
While debate continues over the Heritage development, the city has turned its eyes towards a proposed revitalization of the park running through the heart of the development.
The plan to revitalize Wilkes Street Park envisions turning the area between S. Alfred Street and S. Columbus Street into a park with ply areas, seating and passive areas along with an improve multi-use trail.
A public hearing on the project is scheduled for the Park and Recreation Commission meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18.
“The Wilkes Street public open space will be a visual and functional green connection for people rather than cars between the neighborhood east to the Wilkes Street Tunnel and west to the open spaces created by the cemeteries,” the city said in its public guidelines. “The improvements of the Wilkes Street public open space also present an opportunity to incorporate the history of the neighborhood through interpretive design elements.”
The bikeway that goes through the park will remain intact in the new redesign.
“An important bikeway goes through the park,” the city said in its guidelines. “This bikeway must remain and be incorporated as part of the park design and will follow the Complete Streets Design guidelines’ preferred width for two-way Protected Bike Lanes. Additionally, this route is a commuter route for pedestrians and this use of the park must also remain. The two uses must co-exist in the safest design possible.”
The redesign of the park is included as part of the redevelopment of the Heritage, which is headed to the City Council for review on Feb. 20. The project attracted some criticism from city leadership over the project’s aesthetics and scale — and from the public over concerns that the development adds considerable density to southern Old Town.
Several figures instrumental Alexandria’s Civil Rights movement crowded a typically unremarkable Naming Committee meeting last week to express support for naming a park for former school board member Shirley Tyler.
The naming committee voted unanimously in support of naming the unnamed 3550 Commonwealth Avenue Park the Shirley Tyler Unity Park, a blend of the “Shirley Tyler Park” and “Unity Park” suggestions.
The virtual meeting was attended by Tyler’s children and a few Alexandrians who had been active in the Civil Rights movement, including a rare appearance by Ira Robinson, Alexandria’s first Black City Council member since Reconstruction.
Robinson was elected in 1970 after helping to calm riots following the murder of local teenager Robin Gibson in a 7-Eleven store. The School Board at the time was appointed, rather than elected, and it was Robinson who appointed Tyler.
“I’m on this call because McArthur Meyers made me aware [of the naming] and with Shirley Tyler being on it, the important thing to do would be to express my congratulations and talk about how much Shirley Tyler did for Alexandria when she was there,” Robinson said. “She was so independently dignified and professional. She was posessed of leadership, and a real no-brainer for getting things done. My only reason to show up is to show my respect and appreciation for a woman who did so much for Alexandria.”
Jack Browand, division chief for Park Planning, Capital Development & Waterfront, said the Lynhaven Civic Association suggested “Unity Park” in reference to the role the park played as a gathering place in the years after Gibson’s murder.
“In 1970 there was community strife after murder of community member,” Browand said. “Neighborhoods were at odds with each other. But as the neighborhoods came together it became a symbol of unity. Lynhaven suggested ‘Unity Park’ to represent that.”
Others who spoke in favor of the naming included Alexandria Living Legend Lillian Patterson. Kathryn Prigmore, Tyler’s daughter, said the combined name represented everything Tyler worked for.
“Behind her motivation for doing everything for the city was to unify the community,” Prigmore said. “That was why I suggested, after the last meeting, to add unity to her name.”
Councilwoman Del Pepper agreed and endorsed the name, along with the rest of the committee, which will head to the City Council for final approval.
“There wasn’t a leaf that turned that she wasn’t behind it,” Pepper said. “Something should be named for her, and this is an excellent thing.”
Photo via Google Maps
Alexandria’s Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities (RPCA) is planning an overhaul of recreational park on Eisenhower Avenue to add new sports fields and other amenities.
Joseph Hensley Park at 4194 Eisenhower Avenue — just west of the Animal Welfare League — is currently an open field mostly occupied by a central baseball diamond. The new design will feature two baseball diamonds and a soccer field with synthetic turf.
According to the project website:
The proposed design plan has a number of amendments to the endorsed 2014 Joseph Hensley Park Improvement Plan. The proposed design plan will maintain diamond and rectangular athletic uses on site and upgrade the facilities. The proposed design plan will address stormwater and site drainage issues, increase parking capacity, upgrade the sports lighting, upgrade the two natural turf diamond fields, convert the rectangular field to synthetic turf, and improve site circulation and ADA access. The project will replace the current restrooms, add a play space, add a second park shelter, and add a multi-use court/performance space.
The project will have a phased implementation, with the first phase including the lower baseball diamond and new parking, along with other stormwater and accessibility improvements, as well as replacement of the existing restrooms.
The project is scheduled to go to the Planning Commission for review on Tuesday, March 2.
Image via City of Alexandria
While further south Alexandria is finalizing plans for the northern end of the Old Town Waterfront, the overall north point of the Alexandria waterfront is about to get some love too.
At a Planning Commission meeting yesterday approved plans for several new pieces of Potomac Yard, including a sweeping new plan for a 4.6 acre extension at Potomac Yard Park that will run from just south of the planned Potomac Yard Metro station to Four Mile Run.
Sara Brandt-Vorel, a planner for the City of Alexandria, said the new park will be a large, contiguous open space with features like a children’s natural play area, an area for public art funded by developers, and a fitness station. The park also features several areas set aside as flexible lawns.
The planned park was mostly met with enthusiasm by Planning Commissioners.
“[This] is fundamentally one of the most powerful elements for the vision of Potomac Yard,” said Commissioner Stephen Koenig. “The southern portion, which has been part of the city for several years and has been a wonderful contribution to the development of the neighborhood, when it’s complete the park will stretch from Four Mile Run to where it connects at Braddock Road. I think this has been a fundamentally powerful conception aspect of Potomac Yard. It’s exciting to reach us with this culminating piece.”
Images via City of Alexandria
The New York City-based property owner of the 65-acre Potomac Yard property will present plans to the Alexandria Planning Commission donate 4.5 acres for an extension of Potomac Yard Park.
The extension is part of Virginia Tech’s massive Innovation Campus development, and the contribution by property owner CPYR Theater, LLC includes handing over responsibility for a pump station that will handle sanitary sewer flows for Virginia Tech’s Sewer to Wastewater Energy Exchange system.
The pump station will be owned and maintained by AlexRenew.
The plans go before the commission on December 1.
The extension includes green spaces, public art, stone walls, walkways, benches and a play area for kids. Plans also call for tree and shrub plantings, in addition to a fitness station, bike rack and bike station.
Images via City of Alexandria
Beyer: We Must Protect the U.S. Postal Service — “I have been in touch with local postal officials, who express their commitment to ensuring the timely delivery and return of all ballots. This could be an issue in many parts of the country, however, and I will be working with my colleagues to exercise constant vigilance and ensure that elections are fair and safe. My Northern Virginia colleague, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, serves as the chair of the Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, and with his tireless leadership the House will do all it can to fix these problems and restore operations and service at USPS.” [Gazette]
Three City Parks Scheduled for Improvements — “Projects at or near Powhatan, Hooffs Run, and Brenman Parks to occur over next two months.” [Zebra]
City Holding Virtual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony Online — “Alexandria’s ceremony is prerecorded and virtual to avoid a large gathering during the pandemic. It will include remarks from Mayor Justin Wilson, City Manager Mark Jinks, and representatives from the Alexandria Fire Department, Police Department, and Sheriff’s Office. There will also be a “Return to Quarters” bell-ringing ceremony.” [Patch]
Alexandria Wedding Showcase Goes Virtual — “Tune in virtually on Sunday, Sept. 13 to hear from a variety of vendors on trends, wedding industry changes, and what you need to know while planning your wedding during a pandemic.” [Alexandria Living]
Carlyle Concert Series Starts Friday — “Enjoy the Carlyle Farmers Market while you attend the Concert! Alcohol is available for purchase at select vendor stands and bar as well BYOB-Bring Your Own Beverage will be observed in designated area.” [Facebook]
Harvest Moon Yoga Tonight in Del Ray — “Shine on Harvest Moon! Free outdoor yoga in Del Ray returns every Wed. Sept. 9 – Oct. 14, 6:00 – 7:00 pm at the Del Ray Psych & Wellness lot, 1900 Mt. Vernon Avenue (Corner of E. Bellefonte) in the Heart of Del Ray.” [Facebook]
Today’s Weather — “Cloudy early. Scattered thunderstorms developing later in the day. High 81F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 50%. Scattered thunderstorms in the evening, then mainly cloudy overnight with thunderstorms likely. Heavy and torrential downpours at times. Low 72F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Dog Walker and Pet Sitter — “Are you a veterinary technician who has been pet-sitting under the table to supplement your income? Have you worried about your lack of insurance or back-up plan if you got sick? If so, then joining Cat Nanny Jess might be the answer to all your worries!” [Indeed]
Alexandria is planning to redesign the small .7 acre Wilkes Street Park that runs through Heritage at Old Town.
As part of a planned redevelopment of Heritage, the city is planning to make the park more accessible and accomodating to all ages and abilities, according to the city website. The park also features a pedestrian and bicycle trail that connects Wilkes Street between S. Alfred Street and S. Columbus Street, a use that the city said would continue under the new design.
“The plan recommends improvements such as play areas, seating, and open passive areas,” the city said. “The proposed improvements will also feature a site-specific work of public art as approved by the Alexandria Commission for the Arts. Developers will construct the park improvements in phases, as a condition of their redevelopment approvals.”
Community involvement in the redesign is scheduled to start on Thursday, Aug. 13, with a virtual meeting at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
“The Wilkes Street public open space will be a visual and functional green connection for people rather than cars between the neighborhood east to the Wilkes Street Tunnel and west to the open spaces created by the cemeteries,” the city said in its guidelines for the redesign. “The improvements of the Wilkes Street public open space also present an opportunity to incorporate the history of the neighborhood through interpretive design elements.”
The guidelines say that the park is the only park within a five-minute walking radius in a community with lots of seniors.
The guidelines note that a survey last year of Alexandria residents said walking trails, outdoor public art, and access to nature were cited as some of the biggest needs for Alexandria residents.
A survey is scheduled to be available until Sept. 11, after which a developer design team will put together a series of options. The final design is scheduled to go to the Park and Recreation Commission in January for a public hearing and February for an endorsement.
Photo via Google Maps