Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne is fed up and says the city’s stormwater management is a disaster. On Sunday, Lawhorne said he was helping a neighbor in Del Ray pump water out of his basement until 4 a.m.
“It’s the same summer repeated over and over again,” Lawhorne told ALXnow. “I’ve got basement damage and my shed in the back is destroyed. Whenever we get a big storm you’ll see two-to-three feet of water rushing into the back alley and our house gets engulfed with floodwater. It’s not sanitary.”
Sunday’s storm dumped five inches of water on the city in less than an hour. The city’s stormwater system gets overrun after rainfall of about three inches.
Mayor Justin Wilson says city staff are looking into which stormwater projects can get fast-tracked, and that money is not the problem.
“We’re exploring ways to accelerate execution of the plan, but more money is not the most significant need,” Wilson told ALXnow. “I am heartbroken for the residents and businesses impacted by this flooding. No one should have to fear for their safety and financial well-being every time it rains. I wish we could implement all of these projects tomorrow, but unfortunately they take time. These are very significant projects. We are working to accelerate these efforts as quickly as possible, as well as identify other ways to reduce the impact on our residents.”
Lawhorne says that City Manager Mark Jinks is at fault for underfunding flooding projects for years, and that the city keeps reliving the same summer over and over. Last summer, for instance, there were several major storms that resulted in the doubling of the stormwater management fee for residents to tackle backups, most notably in Rosemont, Del Ray and Old Town.
“Why do we tolerate this?” Lawhorne said. “I give the City Manager a D- for his unwillingness to pay attention to this issue prior to 2020, until the stormwater system crumbled and there was the political will to do something. I’m glad they’re making improvements now, but their plan falls short of accomplishing what needs to be done sooner rather than later.”
Lawhorne continued, “We will continue to pay the price for the next 10 years, just as we saw this last weekend. It’s been a year since all that flooding last year and we haven’t moved the needle. Where’s the results? I’m not saying we have to get them overnight, but good grief.”
Council’s approval last year provided hundreds of millions of dollars toward flood mitigation. Additionally, the city plans to spend millions in American Rescue Plan Act funding on the Hoof’s Run Culvert and spot improvements.
City Councilman John Taylor Chapman has also asked staff to look into redirecting ARPA funding, as well as shifting resources to tackle the issue now.
“It’s a shame to see this over and over again,” Chapman said. “I completely understand the frustrations of residents impacted by small, medium and large storms. We need to adjust and take care of this crisis situation.”
Alexandria announced on Aug. 13, the day before the deluge, that it will accept applications for its new Flood Mitigation Pilot Grant Program on Monday, August 30. Property owner can get a 50% reimbursement (up to $5,000) for flood mitigation projects at their homes.
One resident said on NextDoor that she spent more than $16,000 on drainage systems in her yard last year.
“I know I’m not alone in being frustrated by our flooding and infrastructure issues in Alexandria,” the resident said. “The city of Alexandria NEEDS to address and fix our flooding problems now.”
Lawhorne says he gets frustrated when he hears officials call for patience.
“They say that it’s a 100-year storm, and that it’s just Mother Nature,” he said. “The people who say that must live at the top of the hill.”
TES Operations crews have been cleaning up from this weekend's storm. They will work 12-hour, 24/7 shifts this week. This ramped-up status will enable us to respond to any weather events this week (we are monitoring two Tropical Storms) while we continue clean up. pic.twitter.com/1oz35wNX9F
— Alexandria T&ES (@AlexandriaVATES) August 16, 2021
A new billingual Montessori program for pre-school children could open at the First Assembly of God Church (700 W. Braddock Road) in the Rosemont area.
Owner Flor Brea has filed an application with the city to open a program called Matteo Place Montessori Bilingual Preschool. According to the application, the program will teach children ages 2-6. The program is designed to teach up to 60 children with 10 employees.
“At Matteo Place Montessori Bilingual Preschool, our educational model is truly unique,” Brea said on the school website. “We use a blended learning approach — combining Montessori pedagogy with a Creative Curriculum — while teaching our children in English and Spanish to enhance their understanding of the world.”
Matteo Place Montessori Bilingual Preschool will use the First Assembly of God Church space during the week days.
The program is connected to Luca’s Rainbow, a similar program at 6335 Little River Turnpike in Lincolnia.
“Studies have shown that blended learning, used in many classrooms across the country today, can be an engaging and effective teaching approach for students from diverse backgrounds — including English learners and students with learning challenges who benefit from having the material presented in a variety of ways,” the website said.
Via Google Maps
Beyer Wishes Speedy Recovery, Then Refutes Trump Tweet — “We continue to hope that the President is feeling well and will recover swiftly, but it must be pointed out that this is a bunch of nonsense. None of it is true.” [Twitter]
City Offering Free COVID Tests — “In partnership with our friends at @NeighborhoodHth the City will be hosting free COVID-19 testing events every week this month throughout our City.” [Twitter]
DASH Adding Six Electric Buses — “The buses are manufactured by New Flyer of America and Proterra. They are 40 feet in length and rely completely on battery power rather than gasoline.” [Zebra]
Commonwealth Avenue Improvements Proposed — “A portion of Commonwealth Avenue in the Rosemont area is scheduled to be repaved in 2021, and the city is seeking feedback on improvements that could go along with it.” [Patch]
Walk to Bust Breast Cancer Goes Virtual — “This month you may notices some painted angel wings around Alexandria. These wings are part of the National Breast Center Foundation’s new Angel Wing Challenge associated with the annual Walk to Bust Breast Cancer, which looks a little different this year.” [Alexandria Living]
Recreation Centers Providing Childcare for Essential Workers — “There are currently 250 students enrolled in the full-day program at no cost to families. Many of these children have parents who are essential workers.” [Zebra]
Today’s Weather — “Mainly sunny (during the day). High 73F. Winds SW at 5 to 10 mph. Clear skies (at night). Low near 55F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Marketing Communications Specialist — “To be successful in this position, the Marketing Communications Specialist must demonstrate strong persuasive writing skills, strong digital layout design skills and be an overall expert in digital and social media marketing.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Police are investigating a robbery from a person that occurred in the Del Ray/Rosemont area at around midnight on Tuesday morning, September 8.
According to police, a person was robbed in the area of West Mason Avenue and Russell Road. The area is mostly residential and surrounded by churches.
Alexandria Police did not respond to ALXnow’s questions on the incident.
NOTIFICATION :: The Alexandria Police Department is investigating a robbery from person in the area of West Mason and and Russell Road. Expect police activity in the area.
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) September 8, 2020
Alexandria Police are investigating an assault that put an Alexandria minor with non-life-threatening injuries on June 3 in the Del Ray/Rosemont area.
The incident, which was first reported by the Alexandria Times, occurred at around 10 p.m. in the area of Russell Road and Rosecrest Avenue. The victim was jumped by two suspects while walking home from a friend’s house, according to Alexandria Police spokesman Lt. Courtney Ballantine.
The victim is a member of the T.C. Williams High School varsity baseball team, according to The Times. He was reportedly driven to the hospital by his father.
The suspects did not have weapons and full descriptions of their appearances are not available. Nothing was stolen from the victim and the investigation is ongoing, Ballantine said.
High School Student Assaulted Walking Home — “The assault occurred near the intersection of Russell Road and Rosecrest Avenue in the Del Ray/Rosemont neighborhood. The victim was a member of the T.C. Williams High School baseball team.” [Alex Times]
Officers Complain of Toxic Work Culture at Alexandria Police Department — “There are employees, including some who resigned after allegedly being subjected to retribution, who blame Chief Michael L. Brown for establishing an environment without discipline or accountability, where misconduct is swept under the rug. They say that under Chief Brown’s leadership, problems have gotten worse, which has fueled retirements and resignations from the department.” [Alex Times]
Vigil for Victims of Police Brutality Tonight in Arlandria — “Let’s join in solidarity with our Black community. Please bring a candle, poster, or other tribute to honor the lives lost at the hands of police. We will gather in the parking lot behind TWU’s building at 3801 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. For everyone’s safety, please wear a face covering.” [Facebook]
fibrespace Gives May 31 Profits to ‘Innocence Project’ — ‘Thanks to your shopping, we sent almost a thousand dollars today to this incredible organization who is working to exonerate the innocent and reform our broken criminal justice system.” [Facebook]
George Mason Elementary Donates Books to Community Lodgings — “The principal, Mr. O., was so generous to collect the books and spread them around the lawn at Fifer so that families could select books while maintaining a safe distance from one another.” [Facebook]
Virtual Concert Saturday Benefiting Senior Services of Alexandria — “100 percent of your contributions to the Löwball virtual tip jar for our June 6th webcast will go to support SSA Meals on Wheels program.” [Facebook]
Wesley Housing Closes on Affordable Housing Near Huntington Metro — “Located at 2317 Huntington Avenue, The Arden will be a seven-story building at the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Biscayne Drive.” [Zebra]
New Job: Brand and Public Relations Specialist — “The Specialist, Brand and Public Relations is a core member of the SHRM Brand and Communication team with responsibilities to support national TV commercials, brand activations, PR campaigns and earned media to amplify SHRM’s thought leadership and reputation.” [Indeed]
Vice Mayor Volunteers For ACPS Food Giveaway — “I’m putting my food manager’s license to good use this week in coordinating the preparation of school meals at TC. Thanks to a rock-star team of Alexandria City Public Schools employees, Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities employees, and Volunteer Alexandria volunteers, we distributed more than 1700 meals yesterday.” [Facebook]
Police Hosting Virtual Story Time Tonight — “Great news! Every Friday evening APD will be starting a new initiative–APD #VIRTUALStorytimes at 7PM. This Friday join Sgt. Morgan as she reads “Little Blue Truck” by Alice Schertle. Do you have any book recommendations you wish to see us read???” [Twitter]
Online Focus Group on Parking, Curb Issues Planned — “The City of Alexandria’s Transportation & Environmental Services will be conducting another round of focus groups from April 20 – May 1 on transit, parking and other curb-side uses for Alexandria’s streets.” [Alexandria Living]
Senior Services of Alexandria Gets Face Mask Donation — “We appreciate all the mask donations we have received! Thank you to everyone who responded to our call for masks, our volunteers now can continue to provide services to local seniors while staying protected. Grocery Program volunteer Dave Dolton rocked his new mask this morning while shopping!” [Facebook]
Old Town Boutique District Starts #lovelocalOT Contest — “Each day is a different theme, all you need to do is post in your stories how you supported local in OT that day, use #lovelocalOT & tag @otboutiques… Winners will be chosen at random each night & will receive a $50 gift card to the OT small biz of their choice!” [Facebook]
Evening Star Cafe Sells Wine Package With Tiger King Theme — “As an ode to the latest Netflix phenomenon, Tiger King, Beverage Director/Cat Enthusiast Greg Engert has curated a special selection of bottles tail-ored to sip as you watch the cat-astrophe surrounding Joe Exotic and the G.W. Zoo unfold.” [Facebook]
Village Brauhaus T-Shirt Sales Going to Staff — “We can’t wait for the day when we can all be drinking and eating together at Village Brauhaus! Make sure to get your shirt and wear them when we open our doors again!” [Facebook]
Yates Dry Cleaning Makes Face Masks For Customers — “In challenging times, we’re thankful to have a team with such diverse skills! Our wonderful Seamstress at Yates Dry Cleaning, Joy, has been hard at work making face coverings for our Yates team and some at-risk customers.” [Facebook]
Seifeldein Asks Governor to Ease Restrictions on Medical Transport Businesses — “Some medical transportation businesses needed assistance and I reached out to our governor and elected officials in Richmond. The DMV Commissioner looked into the issue and provided reasonable relief. Our collective actions will help us navigate this crisis.” [Facebook]
ABC Store at 686 St. Asaph Street to Close — “Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority announced Thursday afternoon that they’re closing 12 ABC liquor stores in Northern Virginia in order to deal with reduced staffing levels as workers self-quarantine. The closure starts Monday and lasts until at least April 30.” [WTOP]
Del Ray Farmer’s Market Open Saturday — “Farmers’ markets in the City of Alexandria are open ONLY for the distribution of pre-paid preorders. Many of the #delrayfarmersmarket vendors are offering this option. Vendors will NOT be offering items for sale at the market – only pickup of preorders is permitted. Please place your orders as soon as possible to give our vendors time to prepare.” [Facebook]
Rosemont Neighborhood Holds Door Decorating Contest — “The Hooff family came in First Place in the “Most Creative” category for their stained glass chalk artwork on their door, windows, and front walk, inspired by artwork they had seen on Facebook.” [Zebra]
Updated Del Ray Easter Menu — “Celebrate Easter while supporting our restaurants! Special menus available for carry out.” [Facebook]
Old Town Deli Needs Support — “If anyone is in the DMV area please stop by my dad’s shop Old Town Deli in Alexandria, VA! It’s been around for over 29 years. Just like everyone else, we’re struggling and we could use all of your support! We offer UberEats, carry out and delivery!” [Twitter]
Despite some concerns from neighbors, the Planning Commission unanimously gave the thumbs up a new 22,794 square-foot, gothic-style Presbyterian church, a couple of blocks north of T.C. Williams High School.
The new building will replace the existing 3,400 square foot Alexandria Presbyterian Church at 1300 W. Braddock Road, as well as a parking lot and an adjacent residence, but the congregation is larger than the church can contain. The congregation also has held worship services at Del Ray Baptist Church since 1999, but the new church will bring all of the members together under one roof.
The church’s parking lot will have 98 lots and bicycle parking. There is no open space requirement for the church, but 34 percent of the church will remain open space to meet the city’s stormwater requirements.
Most of the speakers at the event were members of the church who said they were excited to finally all be able to congregate together in one facility.
The church faced some gentle pushback from neighbors. While neighbors said they appreciated the mission and community work of the church, they had concerns about the traffic and stormwater impact of the new facility.
Neighbors cited concerns about traffic on Scroggins Road, a small, two-lane street navigation apps have turned into a cut-through corridor to avoid the crowded Braddock Road, Quaker Lane and King Street. Some said the gridlock on the street has made it difficult for residents to access their own homes.
The traffic study done by staff was also criticized for taking place during the government shutdown, giving an uncharacteristically low estimate of traffic on the street. Residents said crowding at T.C. Williams has led to more students parking on nearby residential streets.
The Planning Commission recognized the concerns from neighbors, but Commissioner Maria Wasowski said the church can’t be expected to single-handedly address the traffic, parking and stormwater problems on Scroggins Road.
Commissioners were also dubious that the church, which would likely see peak occupancy on Sundays, would have a noticeable impact on school parking and commuter cut-through traffic.
“There are four churches in Old Town that rely on on-street parking, and everyone seems to survive,” said Commissioner Mindy Lyle. “Churches enhance our community.”
The Planning Commission unanimously approved the project, which will not require City Council approval unless the Planning Commission’s decision is appealed.
Photo (top) via City of Alexandria, (below) via Google Maps