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
If you’re hoping to get into an Alexandria pool, grab the tickets while you can.
Every Thursday, the City of Alexandria will release tickets for family outdoor pool swimming or indoor lap swimming. Alexnadria’s outdoor pools are scheduled to be open until Labor Day (Sept. 7). Each ticket is valid for a 45-minute window.
“In accordance with Phase Three guidance, family open swim is permitted with ten feet physical distance maintained between swimmers not of the same household,” the city said on its website. “For open swimming tickets July 20 through September 7, due to high demand, households may reserve one ticket per day up to a maximum of three tickets per week.”
For lap swimming, only three individuals are permitted per lane.
The tickets are only available for Alexandria residents at this time except at the Chinquapin’s Rixse Pool.
The outdoor pool ticket fees are determined by age:
- Child (0-4) with paid adult: Free
- Youth (5-17): $3
- Adult (18-59): $4
- Senior (60+): $3
Guests are requested to show up ten minutes before their ticket time to undergo a health screening. Masks are required to be worn at the facilities but cannot be worn in the pools.
Pool tickets are released each Thursday at 9 a.m. for the following week. Tickets are now available for family open swim at outdoor pools for residents and lap swim at the indoor pool for nonresidents. Visit https://t.co/KHsf2FMekR for information and to purchase tickets. pic.twitter.com/SRnxIa3xpc
— RPCA, Alexandria VA (@RPCA_AlexVA) July 16, 2020
Photo via City of Alexandria
At the commission meeting, representatives of developer JBG SMITH and Virginia Tech outlined plans for flexibles spaces that could be used equally for casual strolls or busy markets.
Robert Brant, the developers, described the development’s centerpiece “market lawn” as a flexible open area designed with markets and seasonal pop-ups in mind. Brant said part of the plans include flexibility to expand those events into adjacent streets to create larger market or event spaces.
Brant said the plaza near the Potomac Yard Metro station is planned as a mix of tree cover and public art around a kiss and ride for the station.
A brief overview of the Virginia Tech campus open space detailed walking paths through a green open space in a traditional college campus format.
The park plans are scheduled to go to the Planning Commission and the City Council over the course of this fall and winter. So far, the plans for the open space at Potomac Yard were met with praise by commissioners.
“I’m excited about it,” said Gina Baum, chair of the commission. “I’m sure the rest of the commission is excited about it.”
As part of a plan to revitalize Fort Ward Park, the City of Alexandria is planning to build a new playground at the site in a more publicly accessible area.
Moving the playground to the southern portion of the site was initially proposed in 2015. An initial design for the new park was released today (Monday) with design expected to continue through the spring and summer. Construction of the new playground is scheduled for Spring 2021.
Some equipment from the existing playground is planned to be carried over to the new site, which is just east of St. Stephens and St. Agnes Middle School. Some of the exterior portions of the site will include play-walls that are an homage to the fort’s bastions.
“In addition to the existing and new playground equipment, we are asked with including ADA compliant seating, picnic tables, a drinking fountain, and accessible parking in this design,” staff said.
The site was also the location of several homes in a black community from the early 20th century before the homes were condemned by the City of Alexandria or purchased for next to nothing to convert the land into the current park, according to the Washington Post. Staff said the playground will mostly be built above-grade so the ground beneath is preserved for future archeological study, though some areas where equipment has to be deeply anchored will be excavated.
“Community members have expressed concern that family cemeteries may be located on the proposed site of the playground,” staff said. “In response, Alexandria Archeology conducted extensive research and found no evidence… that the lots were used to bury deceased family members.”
The public review is scheduled to run until Friday, June 26. Feedback on the project can be submitted via email to [email protected]
City Leaders Participating in Town Hall to Discuss Race Relations — “Tuesday’s town hall (at 7 p.m.) will feature a range of speakers including Councilman John Chapman and School Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr, Chief of Police Michael Brown and the City’s Race and Social Equity Officer, Jaqueline Tucker. There will also be opportunities for small group conversations and for participants to weigh in on the topics for future town halls.” [ALX Community]
Local Company Sees Strong Sales After May 1 ‘Shark Tank’ Appearance — “It really was a huge blessing because we just can’t be in stores right now, and we understand that, so we’re really grateful for the ‘Shark Tank’ episode to give us that push on e-commerce.” [Washington Business Journal]
Emergency Rent Assistance Applications Available Until Friday — “Funds in the amount of $600/month for up to three months will be provided directly to property owners on behalf of eligible tenants. Financial assistance will be provided regardless of citizenship status. Applications received through Friday, May 29 will be reviewed as part of the first application cycle, with priority given to applicants in the Tier 1 income range. Applications received after May 29 will be reviewed on a rolling basis contingent on funding availability.” [Facebook]
Councilman Chapman Decries Racist Emails from Public — “I wish someone would FOIA the city council for all of the racist emails and messages we get and post them publicly. Hell, if you don’t live in Alexandria, you should do that for your elected officials of color… cause we all have them.” [Facebook]
Alexandria to Distantly Honor of Class of 2020 Graduates — “On Saturday, June 13, 2020, residents of the most wonderful City of Alexandria will light up their homes in red, white and blue to support the graduating Class of 2020 from T.C. Williams High School. The George Washington Masonic Temple will be illuminated in red, white and blue on June 13 in recognition of our graduates. Let’s light up the whole city! Do your part, as best you can, to light up your home in red, white and blue to honor our graduates!” [Facebook]
AWLA Gives Away 5,000 Pounds of Pet Supplies — “The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria stepped up for pet parents in need, providing more than 5,000 lbs. of pet supplies to Alexandria residents in need since mid-March.” [Alexandria Living]
ACPS Provides Updates on Food Distribution — “ACPS has multiple distribution meal site locations throughout Alexandria for all ACPS students and children over the age of two.” [ACPS]
Parking Lots, Restrooms Reopening at Parks Along GW Parkway — “Parking lots and restrooms at parks along the George Washington Parkway in Virginia will reopen on Wednesday, June 3, after being closed to help slow the spread of coronavirus.” [WTOP]
City Advises Preparedness as Hurricane Season Begins — “June 1 marks the start of Hurricane season. Alexandria can be impacted by strong winds, heavy rain and flooding from tropical storms and hurricanes. Be Prepared: visit ready.gov/Hurricanes to learn how, sign up at alexandriava.gov/eNews for notifications and be #WeatherAware.” [Twitter]
Old Town Crier Prints June Issue on Wrong Paper — “Well….when it rains it pours! Just picked up the June issue at the printer and they printed the entire issue on the WRONG DAMN PAPER! No time to have it reprinted soooo….this issue is a throw back to the late 90’s!!” [Facebook]
New Job: Contact Tracer — “The Contact Tracer is an entry level public health professional responsible for identifying and contacting individuals who may have come in contact with persons recently diagnosed with an infectious disease associated with an outbreak or pandemic.” [Indeed]
The Planning Commission is docketed to review the new safety improvements at the park at the June 2 meeting.
Among improvements planned is new lighting for the skate park.
“Although the skate park is currently not lighted, many young skateboarders use the park after dark, particularly during late fall and winter months,” the parks department said in its application. “Other areas of the park, including the ball fields, are lighted through 10 p.m. The lighting from those areas does not reach the skate park.”
The application says the new lights would be user-activated by pressing a button and would stay lit for one hour unless activated again. The lights would not be able to turn on past 10 p.m.
There are seven new lights planned, each at a maximum of 25 feet up.
Planned improvements also include a new netting system around the ballfield, which would extend above the six-foot fence surrounding the facility.
“The netting provides additional safety to users, spectators and vehicles in the adjacent parking lots from balls topping the existing fence,” the application said.
Two new batting cages are also proposed for the baseball field.
Edgardo Roman Guevara, 20, was arrested on March 31, and 19-year-old Cesar Loza Castillo was arrested on March 27. Both have been charged with malicious wounding and assault by mob, and are being held without bail in the Alexandria Jail.
Police interviewed the victims on the evening of March 15 at Inova Alexandria Hospital. They admitted to meeting at the park at night to smoke marijuana with the suspects in a secluded wooded area. Once there, however, things took a dark turn.
“At this time, [one victim] saw a hand come across his face and felt his neck being cut. [He] then fled the park heading back towards his vehicle,” notes the affidavit.
The victim pushed away the knife, and was then stabbed in the back. The other victim was then allegedly pinned against a tree by both suspects and stabbed repeatedly. The victims escaped from the scene and were driven to the hospital by another friend.
Police located Guevara’s cell phone at the scene of the crime, and the suspects were positively identified by the victims in a police lineup.
Image via Google Maps
(Updated at 5:45 p.m.) — Alexandria Police have determined that the dead man found in the Potomac River on April 5 was a 51-year-old resident of Washington, D.C.
The body of an adult male, whose identity has not been released, was recovered from the Potomac River by the Alexandria Police and Fire Departments in the 300 block of North Union Street.
The man was not out boating, and no boat was recovered, according to police. It is also not clear if the death was accidental or self-inflicted, and how long the body was in the water.
“He was floating through the river against the rocks on the shore and that’s where he was recovered,” police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine told ALXnow. “There is no threat to the public.”
An autopsy is underway, and the investigation is ongoing, Ballantine said.
NOTIFICATION :: The Alexandria Police Department is assisting the Fire Department with a water rescue in the 300 block of North Union Street. Expect police and fire activity in the area. @AlexandriaVAFD
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) April 5, 2020
Photo via Visit Alexandria/Facebook
The developers behind the Oakville Triangle redevelopment say the project has been dramatically reshaped by the decline of brick-and-mortar retail.
Early designs for the project were of a predominately retail district set up across several blocks near Mount Jefferson Park, but Doug Firstenberg, a principal with development investment firm Stonebridge, said in a video that the 13-acre project near Potomac Yard is being reshaped.
“The original design for the Oakville Project was going to include exclusive retail near Mount Jefferson Park,” Fistenberg said. “So what’s changed? The retail world changed a few years ago and it’s, unfortunately, changing again.”
Firstenberg said the idea of a predominately retail district isn’t economically feasible. Now, neighborhood-serving retail will be focused on the new buildings facing Richmond Highway. A hotel that was also planned for the site has also been scrapped.
Instead, a large section of the development at the western end of the site will be replaced with townhouses and the area will be the site of a new Inova HealthPlex.
“The HealthPlex is a standalone emergency room with other complementary standalone services,” said Dr. Rina Bansal, President and CEO of Inova Alexandria.
Bansal said the HealthPlex will feature a full-service emergency room, surgery center, and medical office space. The site is designed for outpatient care only, meaning patients cannot stay for more than 23 hours.
One of the local benefits of the change is a 34,000 square-foot expansion of Mount Jefferson Park. Firstenberg said early community feedback indicated that the park was viewed as a crucial community resource and expansion of that was prioritized.
Firstenberg said the developer is targeting Planning Commission and City Council review in November for the small area plan and the first quarter of next year for a special use permit. Firstenberg said that timeline is important to keep the project on track for summer 2021 construction and opening in the third and fourth quarters of 2023.
A press release noted that feedback can be submitted through the project website.
Alexandria Hospital Suspends Visitation — “Exceptions to Inova Health System’s Visitation Guidance can be made in extenuating circumstances and with prior approval from a care site’s administration.” [Zebra]
Man Convicted for 2016 Rape — “[P]olice in Alexandria — for the first time — ran DNA through public genealogical databases and developed a family tree based on known DNA profiles, which pointed to Bjerke as a suspect. After Bjerke was arrested, a buccal swab of his DNA matched DNA found on the victim.” [WTOP]
Major COVID-19 Budget Impact, Mayor Says — “In FY 2010 (Great Recession), we adopted a budget that dropped spending by 2.2%. It would now appear the projected impact of COVID-19 on OUR CURRENT FISCAL year (now through June 30th) will be almost 5% down. Next year will be much worse.” [Facebook]
City Facilities Closed or Open by Appointment Only — “To promote social distancing during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, all City of Alexandria facilities are now either closed to the public or open by appointment only, until further notice.” [City of Alexandria]
City Closes Rec. Centers, Parks, Playgrounds — “The Alexandria Health Department (AHD) has recommended these changes because public play areas have continued to attract groups of more than 10 people despite earlier warnings against this practice.” [Alexandria Living]
Eateries Support Employees During Pandemic — “With five of their six restaurants closed, ARP is using Lena’s kitchen to prepare meals for four, distributed to employees three times a week along with boxes packed with food, toilet paper and small cash stipends.” [Zebra]
Old Town Books Doing All Business Online — “Thank you for staying connected, for the tweets, the shares, the kind words of encouragement. We need them. We love them + you + books + we’re not giving up. No matter how bleak things get a book can do some good, for someone, somehow. We’re determined to keep on with our virtual book clubs, $1 shipping, NEW forthcoming virtual writing classes. As long as you keep ordering we’ll keep on keeping on. Thank you. LONG LIVE THE BOOKSHOP.” [Facebook]
Online Ordering Only at Pork Barrel BBQ, Holy Cow, Sushi Bar — “We greatly appreciate the support and know that every order keeps our doors open and most importantly KEEPS JOBS!” [Facebook]
Presidential Primary Day in Alexandria — Today is Super Tuesday, the presidential primary day in Virginia and 13 other states across the U.S. Here in Alexandria, polls are open from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. [City of Alexandria]
New Development Near Braddock Road Metro — “CRC Cos. LLC is pitching a plan to redevelop several single-family homes across from the Braddock Road Metro station into a new mixed-use building. The Arlington-based real estate firm submitted plans to Alexandria officials last week for a seven-story, 177-unit building along North West Street, bounded by Madison Street and Wythe Street. The proposal also calls for a small space set aside for ground-floor retail.” [Washington Business Journal]
Meeting Planned for Tot Lot Renovations — Alexandria’s parks department “will renovate Woodbine Tot Lot in partnership with the Make-A-Wish Foundation mid-March through mid-April. A community pre-construction meeting with City staff and the contractor is scheduled for Saturday, March 7 at 10 a.m. at Woodbine Tot Lot (1509 Woodbine St.). Make-A-Wish Foundation America approached the City of Alexandria with a wish from Whitaker, a local four-year-old undergoing cancer treatment.” [City of Alexandria]
A Tale of Two Kindnesses — A man who stopped to help a family in need in Alexandria was, soon thereafter, helped by the same family when it turned out that he was in need of assistance, too. [Alexandria Living]
Trampoline Park Opens in West End — “Get Air, an indoor trampoline park with a variety of activities, has opened at 340 South Pickett Street in Alexandria. The venue has thousands of square feet of trampolines, including vertical trampolines, a trampoline dodgeball area, trampoline lanes for slamball, tightrope walking challenge, and a foam pit.” [Patch, Alexandria Living]