(Updated 8/7) Upcoming Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend Canceled — “The coronavirus has canceled one of Alexandria’s most beloved traditions this winter.” [Alexandria Living]
Beyer Blames Trump for Coronavirus Response Failures — “The White House is simultaneously blaming state governments for Trump’s failed pandemic response and blocking federal assistance to support state and local governments.” [Twitter]
Fire Department: Use Flashlight, Not Candle if Power Goes Out — “Tropical Storm #Isaias is expected to bring heavy rain and wind gusts that may cause power outages. If you experience an outage, use a flashlight for emergency lighting instead of candles to prevent a possible fire. Be prepared. Be informed. Be ready.” [Twitter]
City Suspends Trash and Recycling Today — “Due to expected impacts from Tropical Storm Isaias, the City of Alexandria has suspended its curbside trash and recycling collection for Tuesday, August 4.” [Zebra]
Ebbin Pledges to Fight for Marijuana Legalization in 2021 — “In 2020, six years of hard work paid off in major reform to our criminal justice system by decriminalizing possession of marijuana. In 2021, I’m ready to do the hard work to legalize cannabis in Virginia the right way.” [Facebook]
Silver Diner to Open August 12 — “The 6,500-square foot restaurant is part of West Alex, a new $185 million mixed-use community at the corner of King and North Beauregard streets, anchored by an in-the-works Harris Teeter grocery store and Array, a 278-unit apartment building.” [Alexandria Living]
New Farmers Market in Carlyle Starts Friday — “The Carlyle Vitality Initiative is hosting a new Farmer’s Market at John Carlyle Square Park, starting on August 7th! We can’t wait to see you this weekend!” [Facebook]
Today’s Weather — “Thunderstorms. Potential for heavy rainfall. Low 71F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 100%.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Activities and Volunteer Coordinator — “At Sunrise, our Activities & Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for leading the day to day activities and programs for a Sunrise Senior Living community.” [Indeed]
Many of the city’s collection services are scheduled to restart Monday, two weeks from now.
According to the new schedule:
- Mulch orders and delivery: Orders opened on Monday, June 1, and delivery of mulch is scheduled to begin on Monday, June 15
- Household Hazardous Waste and Electronics Center: normal hours for the hazardous and electronics drop-off center are scheduled to resume on Monday, June 8
- Curbside yard waste collection: curbside collection is scheduled to resume on Friday, June 19. Curbside collection will be on Fridays only for all residents.
- Refuse and recycling collection of material allowed outside of City-issued carts: collection resumes on Monday, June 15
- Curbside bulk trash collection: collection resumes Monday, June 15
- Curbside metal/appliance collection: collection resumes Monday, June 15
- Citywide street sweeping: resumes Monday, June 15
- Farmers’ market food waste drop-off: suspended until Northern Virginia enters Phase 3
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
One attempted solution to a trash problem in Alexandria has allegedly created another, though the city said it’s working to manage the problem.
In response to the increased demand for recycling services at homes in Alexandria, the city has been encouraging residents to take their surplus recycling materials to a facility at 4251 Eisenhower Ave.
A local duo calling themselves Advocates for Clean & Clear Waterways cleaned 110 trash bags from Hunting Creek and said they identified the source of the pollution as the Alexandria Recycling Center. Video taken at the site shows holes in the fence through which trash was being dumped down the hill.
The Video showed the hillside littered with trash bags, styrofoam and more.
“Unfortunately, this is where our pollution is coming from,” said Caleb Merendino, who along with Benjamin Swanson runs Advocates for Clean & Clear Waterways. “Everything upstream from this point is pretty clean… [but] from the recycling center down we’re seeing the reason that our waterways are so polluted.”
Merendino said part of the problem was the lack of trash can at the recycling center, leaving residents dropping off trash to find alternative means of disposal. The other problem was large holes in the fence where those residents stuffed their trash through.
“Alexandria, what the heck is going on?” Meredino said. “We’re at a recycling center. You’re trying to pretend, but I don’t see any results. We have a broken fence. You are the reason our waterways are polluted… Alexandria is to blame, and everyone should be furious.”
“Virginia DEQ and the City of Alexandria have been promptly notified, and Alexandria is to blame for much of the garbage flowing into our local waterways,” said Swanson.
City of Alexandria spokesman Craig Fifer said the damage to fences was found and repairs were made immediately, but pushed back on the characterization of the recycling center as the source of the pollution.
“We also inspected the area around the fence, and we are confident that the facility is not a major source of pollution in waterways,” Fifer said. “The waterway near the Eisenhower Avenue facility is the main stem of Cameron Run, but the residents who shot the video generally collect trash from the downstream tidal portion of Cameron Run called Hunting Creek. Hunting Creek receives surges of water (and debris) from the entire Potomac River watershed with changes in the tide. This means trash found in the Potomac River and Hunting Creek is generally from upstream of Alexandria. The recycling drop-off facility and surrounding area is not a significant source of trash in Hunting Creek, but its location upstream from Hunting Creek may create that appearance.”
Fifer said like other localities in the region, the city is trying to figure out how to handle the 30% increase in volume of trash and recycling since the pandemic started.
“Because we have had to limit curbside collection to the contents of the City-provided bins (i.e. no loose or bagged trash on the curb) and suspend collection of bulk, metal and yard waste, our drop-off facilities have also had large increases in volume,” Fifer said. “In particular, we’re seeing a significant increase in cardboard shipping boxes and food takeout containers because people are shopping more from home.”
Fifer added, “These materials take up more volume in trash and recycling than other items, filling bins faster. Compounding these challenges, we are seeing a significant increase in illegal dumping at our recycling drop-off centers, both of non-recyclables and of items while the centers are closed. All this is why there is much more litter on the pavement at drop-off centers now than a few weeks ago.”
Fifer said additional resources have been directed to the recycling drop-off facilities, including cleaning the facility five days per week.
Hard Times Café Founder Passes Away — “Sad news. @HardTimesFun founder Fred Parker passed away last night. He was a very special friend and an icon in #AlexandriaVA. Thank you Fred for so many memories. You will never be forgotten #RIP” [Twitter]
Birchmere Joins Group to Lobby Congress for Coronavirus Relief — “With large gatherings forbidden throughout the country, the live music industry has ground to a halt, closing revenue streams and putting things like rent and payroll payments in jeopardy. More than 450 venues across the U.S. are banding together under the new group called the National Independent Venue Association to present one voice to lawmakers.” [Washington Business Journal]
Potomac Coffee Donates to Carpenter’s Shelter — “Thank you, Potomac Coffee, for your incredibly generous donation of 200lbs of VERY aromatic coffee! As one of the many local businesses hard hit by the pandemic, we appreciate your giving spirit during these tough times!” [Facebook]
Presbyterian Cemetery Closes — “Thank you all for your comments. The cemetery tried to keep open after the city closed all parks and dog parks, but we were completely overwhelmed. Over the past four weeks we had people driving in from DC, MD and other parts of Virginia to exercise their dogs. Not only were we overrun, but people were not following the rules, were belligerent and at times threatening to staff. That and numerous other issues gave us no choice except to lock the gates and keep everyone out. Since this is the first time in years we are closed, the cemetery will tackle some much needed maintenance issues and needed enhancements and hope to open again once the COVID-19 crisis passes. We hope everyone understands and know that we appreciate your support.” [Facebook]
‘The Old Town Shop’ is Selling Disposable Face Masks — “The Old Town Shop carries DISPOSABLE FACE MASKS: 2 masks to a pack, and $5 per pack. The BFE 95 triple layer protective masks have a waterproof outer layer and a breathable inner layer. The 3D tensile design fully fits an adult face. Material is non-woven fabric with a flexible plastic nose bridge and elastic ear covers.” [squaremktg.com]
Video: Alexandria Firefighter Recruits Train in Smokehouse — “A pandemic doesn’t stop other emergencies from happening. The AFD Training Division continues to prepare our new members to respond to the call.” [Facebook]
Sheriff’s Office Talks With ACPS Third Graders — “With Alexandria City Public Schools closed, we’re finding new ways to stay connected with students. Today [April 24] Lieutenant Sean Casey and Deputy Morgan Garner joined Mr. Holland’s third graders for their lunch bunch via Zoom. They discussed online safety and did a fun demonstration showing the importance of proper hand washing.” [Facebook]
Riverside Gardens Families Play Dress-up — “It became something to look forward to. We’d all wonder, what will the Ferrys do tonight? For five nights we had ‘must-see Facebook!'” [Zebra]
Alexandrians Pitch ‘Burro’ Gardening Tools on Shark Tank — “Mollie Thorsen and her father, Bob, have come a long way with their innovative gardening tool, the original Little Burro.” [Alexandria Living]
City Sets Up Yard Waste Collection Site on Eisenhower Avenue — “The new facility will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Fridays. You must show an ID with a City of Alexandria address.” [Alexandria Living]
Today is a Teacher Work Day for ACPS — “REMINDER: Monday, April 27 is a Teacher Work Day. Enjoy your weekend!” [Facebook]
Carol and Ryan Bailey Named Alexandria Living Legends — “Carol says she has spent her life paving the way for Ryan. She and her family still live in the house her grandfather bought in Del Ray in 1900. It has a historical marker on the front column and a sign in the front yard that says, ‘Spread Kindness, Build Community.'” [Gazette]
The city is pleading for residents to minimize their trash after piles have steadily grown higher as people are staying at home during the pandemic.
Residential trash tonnage has increased by 40% over the last month, according to a press release.
“Refuse and recycling collection are vital to the region’s health and safety, and localities are committed to providing this essential service,” the city said in a press release. “Every morning, collection crews report to work while facing the same life challenges as the rest of the community.”
The issue also came up in a virtual town hall with Mayor Justin Wilson last week. Wilson advised that residents should try to cut back on the trash they produce and, for yard waste being produced by more Alexandrians gardening at home, that should be composted in back yards if available.
The city asked that local residents take the following precautions to help keep the garbage disposal teams safe:
- Dispose of used wipes, tissues and paper towels in trash bags that are tied shut.
- Refrain from generating large amounts of waste–wait to dispose of the bulk materials in your basement, attic or garage until normal operations resume.
- Flatten cardboard boxes to create more room in recycling carts.
- For customers with City-issued trash carts, bags and bulk material placed outside the carts will be left uncollected. This change will take effect Monday, April 13.
- For customers who do not have City-issued trash carts, all trash must be contained within sealed or securely tied plastic bags (loose and bulk material will be left uncollected).
- Yard waste pickup in Alexandria remains suspended until further notice; consider backyard composting or grasscycling lawn clippings.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
Spring Cleaning Day has become an annual tradition in the Beverley Hills neighborhood, but a change that makes every trash day its own Spring Cleaning Day has left some residents fuming.
“The Spring Clean Up has always occurred one magical Saturday a year, where people can put bulk trash and oversized items at the curb for trash pick up,” local blog Tales from the Beverley Hills Listserv recounted in a post. “BevHills residents gleefully turn into Sanford and Son-esque trash pickers, slowly trawling the neighborhood in their cars to scavenge bulk items like used furniture, gallons of old paint, half-destroyed kid toys, and broken Lime scooters (lol). It’s like Santa, but in reverse.”
After one local resident on the listserv asked about the date of this year’s trash pickup, Mayor Justin Wilson answered that it had been replaced with a weekly bulky item collection.
“This decision was made as part of last year’s budget process,” Wilson explained. “While this did save the ratepayers about $65K, it is intended as a service enhancement. We pick up all of the same things, now year-round instead of once a year.”
Some two dozen emails followed, as residents lamented the loss of the festive community event. Said one:
How incredibly sad this is to hear. Have you never watched the fever of activity that surrounds each area’s spring cleanup? Because of the concentration of items placed at curbside on a specific date, people from miles around scour each neighborhood for the myriad of things that in fact help them make ends meet. Scrap metal, repairable lawn mowers, reusable furniture, salvageable TVs, wheelbarrows, etc. all get picked up and taken away for sale and reuse. In my experience, someone ends up taking away at least half of what I have put out for spring cleanup. Not only do we save valuable landfill space, we feed a robust local recycling/personal income enhancing activity with our traditional program. Under this new regime it all goes to the dump. Regardless of how well-intentioned this change in procedure may have been, please give it a second look.
“This is a shame,” another resident wrote. “Spring Clean Up is an amazing event! Who made this decision? Certainly not the citizens of Alexandria!”
Some locals looked more favorably on the change, saying the more regular pickup helped cut down on the length of time bulk items piled up in the garbage. There is also now discussion of residents setting one particular day as a new neighborhood clean up day.
File photo by Jay Westcott
Reminder: School and Trash Collection Delays — Alexandria public school students are preparing to go to school after a two hour weather delay this morning. Curbside trash and recycling collection, meanwhile, may be delayed today and Thursday after being suspended Tuesday afternoon. [Twitter, Twitter]
Wind Advisory Issued for Alexandria — Alexandria and surrounding areas are under a Wind Advisory from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. today. Gusts of up to 50 mph are possible, which could cause trees and power lines to topple, forecasters say. [Twitter]
Alexandria’s Kiwi Kuisine Profiled — “Since opening in 2007, Kiwi Kuisine’s savory meat pies and strategic business model have continued to grow. The business is the brainchild of resident Bert ‘Ram’ Todd. With his hulking build and thick New Zealand accent, Todd’s professional rugby past comes as no surprise. Unforeseen, however, is his true passion for cooking.” [Alexandria Times]
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Performing Next Week — “Now is your chance to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy live at The Birchmere on Jan. 16 at 7:30pm. You probably have heard their smash hit ‘Go Daddy-O,’ or you’d at least recognize it if you heard it.” [Zebra]
Trash will be picked up today (Tuesday), but will not be picked up tomorrow (Wednesday). Trash collection services scheduled for Wednesday through Friday will be delayed by one day.
Libraries will close at 5 p.m. today and libraries, recreation centers, and the Torpedo Factory Art Center will all be closed on Wednesday, according to the city website.
As on Christmas, there’s no need to feed the meters on New Year’s Day. Metered parking restrictions will be lifted throughout the city, though this only applies to legal parking spaces and parking in no parking zones, loading zones, or spaces for persons with disabilities is all still prohibited.
DASH will operate its regular schedule today and will operate a special trolley service between the Durant Center (1605 Cameron Street) and the George Washington Masonic National Memorial (101 Callahan Drive) from 5:30-11 p.m. tonight for First Night activities.
DASH buses will not be operating tomorrow, but the King Street Trolley will run on its regular schedule.
(Updated at 11:50 a.m.) Alexandria will no longer collect glass curbside for recycling, starting next year.
Starting Jan. 15, if you’re hoping to get your glass recycled rather than just tossed out with the trash, you’ll have to take it down to the purple bins at one of four facilities in southern Alexandria.
According to the city, glass recycling can be dropped off at:
- S. Whiting Street (At the end of S. Whiting Street, intersecting at Tower Court)
- 3224 Colvin Street
- 4251 Eisenhower Avenue
- Jones Point Park (On the left, at the end of S. Royal Street, heading South)
- MOM’s Organic Market (3831 Mt. Vernon Ave.) – opening in January 2020
Only glass bottles and jars — of any color — can be dropped off, though they have to be emptied and rinsed first. The change reflects the reality that single-stream recycling of glass is no longer feasible from an economic and environmental standpoint.
“Currently, glass collected for recycling by our contractors is ending up in landfills due to a variety of issues, including recycling contamination, rising recycling costs, and lack of a regional glass processing capacity,” the city said.
For residents who don’t want to take a trip to the big bins, glass should be tossed out in the trash starting Jan. 15.
After China stopped accepting some recyclable materials from the United States, the cost of recycling in the United States skyrocketed and left localities nationwide grappling with what to do with costly waste.
Alexandria is just the latest locality to ditch glass. Arlington County eliminated glass recycling in April, though like Alexandria several locations were designated as drop-off locations to be sent to Fairfax County, where the glass is crushed and used in road and other projects. Prior to the change, Arlington said, glass placed in curbside recycling bins was just being sorted and ultimately sent to landfills — not recycled.
According to the city website:
The City is actively monitoring the market for a viable option to recycle glass and working with our neighbors to propose and advocate for innovative solutions. While glass is still accepted in the blue recycling bin, the City has partnered with Fairfax County and established four drop-off centers to improve the recyclability of glass. Glass separated at these centers will be hauled to a processing plant in Fairfax County to be recycled into gravel and sand that can be used locally. These end products can be used in landscaping, construction projects, and even remanufactured into new glass items.
On Twitter, some residents were upset with the announcement from Mayor Justin Wilson last night, though the mayor pushed back on the assertion that Alexandria can do much to solve the larger glass recycling problem. Still, curbside glass collection could eventually be restored, Wilson said.
Unfortunately the international recycling markets are very much out of the City’s control. We have partnered with Fairfax and Arlington to develop some glass recycling options. If this works, we will explore whether we can restore curbside collection in the future.
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) December 11, 2019
Photo via City of Alexandria
Alexandria Home Sale Prices Rise Above Arlington — “The Amazon HQ2 effect on home prices in Northern Virginia continues and, at least by one measure, the Alexandria housing market is now more expensive than Arlington County. At least it was in October, the most recent month for which data is available.” [WTOP]
Trampoline Park Hoping to Open By End of Year — “Management for Get Air Trampoline Park, an indoor recreation and amusement park, confirmed that the Alexandria location is scheduled to open in the second half of December. The space Get Air is occupying at 340 S. Pickett St. was formerly a U.S. Post Office in the West End Village shopping center.” [Alexandria Living]
Trash Will Be Picked Up on Thanksgiving — “Thursday trash/recycling routes: your trash and recycling WILL BE collected starting at 6AM this Thursday so the route can be completed in advance of the Turkey Trot. If you are not up that early, please set your material out Wed. night!” [Twitter/@AlexandriaVATES]
Meeting About Southern GW Parkway Safety — “On Tuesday, Dec. 3, the National Park Service will host a meeting to discuss George Washington Memorial Parkway (GWMP) visitors’ recommendations about how to improve safety at key intersections between the City of Alexandria and George Washington’s Mount Vernon.” [National Park Service]
If your property is damaged by a city vehicle, there’s a good chance you could be out of luck when it comes to seeking payment.
With its blue background and city seal, the marker set up in the yard at Shuter’s Hill within eyeshot of the backside of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial could be mistaken for an official sign, but the sign tells the story of one resident’s struggle with the City of Alexandria over an archaic legal precedent.
According to the sign, a city truck struck the fence on May 22 and was captured on video, but the city has claimed sovereign immunity — a term derived from British common law doctrine that means the government cannot be sued without its permission.
This isn’t the first time damages from an garbage truck has led to frustrations over sovereign immunity. Across Virginia, there have been several instances of localities citing sovereign immunity when faced with costly liability charges, according to Washingtonian.
Craig Fifer, a spokesman for the City of Alexandria, said logistically that paying claims would necessitate an increase in taxes and fees, reductions in services, or other savings:
The City’s services are designed and operated to provide the maximum benefit to the community. Under federal and state laws and court rulings, the City is generally not liable for damages caused in the course of providing core government services. While the City conducts extensive planning and training to avoid damaging property, some damage does occur given the vast scope of City operations. Exemption from these claims saves a significant amount of money every year for taxpayers as a whole. If the City were to pay claims for which it is not legally liable, it would necessitate some combination of increases in taxes and fees, reductions in services, or savings in other areas.
The City is expected to defend itself against claims for which it is not legally liable. If the claim involves a core government function (including trash collection), sovereign immunity would apply. If the claim involved another situation (such as the operation of a City vehicle while not performing a core government function), sovereign immunity would not apply and the claim would be paid if appropriate.
Jonathan Siegel, a law professor at George Washington University, said the arguments over sovereign immunity aren’t new.
“This has been around forever,” Siegel said. “It’s a fundamental feature of government and it causes all kinds of problems for centuries. Ever since the founding of the nation, it’s been legally true that governments have sovereign immunity.”
Bald Eagle Rescue Near Cameron Run — “A bald eagle that appeared to be injured was spotted Wednesday morning on the ground at the Cameron Run Regional Park, near the Metro tracks in Alexandria, Virginia. It seemed like something was wrong with one of its wings.” [WTOP]
Old Town Eatery to Offer Original Menu — “Longtime Old Town Alexandria Italian restaurant Landini Brothers, at 115 King St., is marking its 40th anniversary Oct. 28 by taking diners back to the past. The family-owned restaurant, founded in 1979, is bringing back for one night only the original menu that waiters brought to diners’ tables. And that means 1979 prices.” [WTOP]
Trash Collection Reminder — “DYK which November Holidays the City’s trash & recycling collection is delayed by one day? It’s a trick question: NONE. On both Veteran’s Day AND Thanksgiving, trash and recycling is collection as scheduled.” [Twitter, City of Alexandria]
More Local Halloween Events — “Celebrate a safe Halloween with friends and neighbors during Halloween Spirit Week, October 25 through October 31. The Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities offers a variety of fun options for families, and even their four-legged friends, throughout Alexandria.” [City of Alexandria, ALXnow]