It was another busy week in Alexandria.
Our readers overwhelmingly responded to Sunday’s protest at the Alexandria home of acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, and the story has more than 380 comments. This week also saw its first homicide, which occurred in the West End, in addition to a number of crime events in the Braddock area.
Not included in our weekly list is late-breaking news on Friday that Alexandria City Public Schools want a virtual-only school year starting in September. Residents have been waiting throughout the summer for the school system to make up its mind, and ACPS has conducted numerous virtual chats with students, parents and staff over the last several weeks.
Here are our top stories this week in Alexandria.
- Activists Protest at Alexandria Home of Acting DHS Chief Chad Wolf
- BREAKING: Police Investigating Homicide in West End Residential Community
- Former APD Officer Peter Laboy Gets His Driver’s License Seven Years After Being Shot in the Head
- Just Listed in Alexandria
- Students and Residents Putting Daily Cover Over T.C. Williams High School Name
- BREAKING: Flooding Reported in Parts of City, AFD Responding to Multiple Emergency Calls
- Shots Fired Tuesday Night in Braddock Neighborhood
- Alexandria Delegate Wants City to Fire Officials or Police Who Espouse QAnon Theories
- Save the Tree Petition at T.C. Williams High School Garners Nearly 1,000 Signatures
- Man Injured in Violent Carjacking in Old Town
- COVID-19 Update: Deaths at 57, Case Count at 2,735 in Alexandria
Have a safe and fun weekend!
Staff photo by James Cullum
“Some Alexandria citizens have already stepped up to say they will protect the tree, some even going so far as to say they will chain themselves to it,” notes the Change.org petition. “Let us show them our support and tell the city and school board NO to killing this tree.”
The tree was reportedly supposed to be cut down last week, but is still standing. ACPS did not respond to ALXnow’s calls for comment on the situation, and if it is possible to scuttle plans to cut it down.
“Much consideration has been given to finding a way to save this tree which unfortunately is positioned in the middle of the site where the concession and restroom area will be,” ACPS spokeswoman Julie Allen told ALXnow in a statement last week. “When planning, the goal was to locate this facility as far as away from the neighborhood on Woods Avenue as possible to minimize its impact on residents. Although we understand and agree that losing a mature tree is regrettable, 31 new trees and other landscaping will be planted.”
There will also be a demonstration near the construction site on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
“This project is not essential, especially when we don’t have students in schools, nor do we have football teams or fans allowed to attend games,” Alexandria activist Paul Alan Friedman wrote on Facebook. “No later than the end of August it will be gone if we don’t act. In about a week, it will be under control of the company hired to cut it down. There must be another way.”
Save the Tree at TC! (TC Williams High School)Join us! Meet up with us at the gate next to our WITNESS TREE and…
Mayor Says Heroes Act Ignores Local Government — “The Heroes Act, adopted by the House of Representatives included $89.6M in funding for Alexandria, which nearly replaced the revenue we are projected to lose this year. The bill released in the Senate tonight doesn’t even mention local government. They cannot be serious.” [Twitter]
ACPS Hosting Reopening Chats Today — “School Board Representatives, Lorraine Johnson and Ashley Sanchez-Viafara (both seniors), to lead Student-focused Reopening Community Chats.” [ACPS]
ACPS Publishes Frequently Asked Questions on T.C. Williams High School Name Change Process — “Today, T.C. Williams High School is proud to educate students from 120 different countries, with 121 different languages spoken. Alexandria City Public Schools views our diversity as a strength. Ensuring racial equity is at the heart of the school division’s Strategic Plan: Equity for All 2025. While we still have work to do inside our schools, the school’s name does not align with who we are as a community.” [ACPS]
Vice Mayor’s Jogging Route Reads ‘Mask Up’ — “A reminder, courtesy of my weekend run (while wearing a face covering).” [Twitter]
Friendship Firehouse to Celebrate Annual Birthday… At Your Place — “This year marks the 246th birthday of the Friendship Fire Company. Usually it is celebrated with a festival. But because of public health concerns, the celebration will have to take place from home.” [Zebra]
Demonstration to Save Witness Tree at T.C. Williams High School on Thursday — “Join us! Meet up with us at the gate next to our WITNESS TREE and behind Alexandria’s high school garage on THURSDAY 7/30 at 7:30 pm!!!” [Facebook]
Sidewalk Sale Set for Next Month — “The pandemic won’t stop one of Alexandria’s summer traditions. The annual Alexandria Summer Sidewalk Sale is set to happen on Saturday, Aug. 15 and Sunday, Aug. 16 at Old Town, Del Ray and other city businesses.” [Patch]
Today’s Weather — High temperature of 92 degrees, and a 60% chance of rain between 3 and 4 p.m. [Weather.com]
New Job: Midday Dog Walker — “Are you between roles or just looking for a way to stay active and interact with lots of furry friends? Waggy Walkys is looking for pet-loving dog walkers in your area!” [Indeed]
The tree is reportedly scheduled to be cut down this week, and a number of residents are saying they will tie themselves to the tree, or at least the opening to the construction fencing that has been erected around the concession stand, which is part of the modernization the Parker-Gray Memorial Stadium at T.C. Williams High School. It includes a new concession stand, bathrooms and storage space.
“Much consideration has been given to finding a way to save this tree which unfortunately is positioned in the middle of the site where the concession and restroom area will be,” ACPS spokeswoman Julie Allen told ALXnow in a statement. “When planning, the goal was to locate this facility as far as away from the neighborhood on Woods Avenue as possible to minimize its impact on residents. Although we understand and agree that losing a mature tree is regrettable, 31 new trees and other landscaping will be planted.”
The project was approved in the fall of 2018, and the initial design would have saved the tree, however that would have pushed the building toward the fence line near neighboring property lines.
Former Mayor Allison Silberberg joined a handful of community activists at T.C. on Monday night to talk about the issue.
“This oak tree is very old and absolutely beautiful and large, and it’s the only tree that would provide shade out there,” she said. “I felt very strongly that the concession stand and bathroom facilities should not be near residential homes. I urged the staff of ACPS and the city to look at putting it at the other end, closer to the school and they felt that there wasn’t enough room.”
MacArthur Myers said that, if possible, he would chain himself to the tree.
“It’s always going to be Parker-Gray Stadium,” Myers said. “You don’t have to tear everything down.”
Susie Saffelle Hughes said she spoke with the City Arborist, who told her that the tree is healthy.
“After races the kids make a beeline over to that area because that particular tree offers such relief from the heat of the sun beating down,” Hughes said. “There isn’t another shade tree around that’s not a dinky little stick. Also for grandma and grandpa who can’t sit in the bleachers in the hot stands… it’s a welcome relief to sit at one of the picnic tables under the shade tree.”
There is a mighty oak behind TC Williams by the concession stand that they may cut down for a new refreshment stand….
If you waited, unlike the City of Alexandria, to put up your Christmas decorations after Thanksgiving, there are plenty of places to get your tree.
For one, the Alexandria Police Department is hosting its annual Christmas tree sale, a yearly fundraiser that helps cover the cost of sending over 50 children to Camp Kekoka in the summer. The program specifically aims to help Alexandria children who would otherwise be unable to afford summer camp.
The trees are sold at 110 Callahan Drive, near the Masonic Temple. Trees are available from 4-8 p.m. Monday-Friday, or on weekends from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
According to the camp website:
For more than 70 years, the Alexandria Police Youth Camp has been offering children in Alexandria a place to meet friends, try new exciting adventures and participate in character-building activities… Our mission is to own and operate a camp for children, where they can receive wholesome recreation, moral, physical, mental, cultural and civil training.
The prices for the trees are not listed online.
Almost Heavenly Christmas Trees is open daily at Landmark Mall from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. on weekends and from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. during the week.
The company is also hosting a sale in North Ridge (2911 Cameron Mills Road) this weekend from Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 8. Proceeds from the sale will help benefit the North Ridge Citizens Associations and Trinity United Methodist Church.
Tree prices range from $30 for a 3-foot tree up to $525 for a 15-foot tree. The company also offers accessories like garlands and wreaths.
Other Christmas tree sales around town include, but are not limited to:
- Greenstreet Gardens (1721 West Braddock Road) — Staff at Greenstreet Gardens said the prices vary significantly by the size of the tree.
- Basilica School of Saint Mary (400 Green Street) — The Christmas tree sale starts Tuesday, Dec. 5 and ends Sunday, Dec. 15. The sale is open 6-9 p.m. on weeknights and 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekends. All proceeds benefit the school.
- Fairlington United Methodist Church (3900 King Street) — The church is hosting its annual tree sale starting Thursday, Dec. 5 through Sunday, Dec. 15.
For commuters, nearby Arlington also has a number of sales, including in the Crystal City area.
Staff photo by Jay Westcott
Meeting About Detention Center Held Last Night — “Should a youth detention center in Northern Virginia stay open? That question spurred passionate debate at a series of public meetings this month, as the operators of the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center make decisions about the future of the facility… ‘I would like to see the facility stay open because it helps youth,’ said Bill Cleveland, former vice mayor of Alexandria.” [WTOP, Twitter/@AmyJacksonVA]
City Council Approves Waterfront Restaurant — “The Mill, a southern kitchen and market, gained approval to open in a historic Alexandria warehouse at 10 Duke Street on the waterfront. City Council voted on Nov. 16 to approve the special use permit and encroachment into the public right-of-way on Duke Street for a balcony, steps and signage.” [Patch]
Xmas Tree Selected for Dec. 8 Tree Lighting — “After scouting for the Del Ray Christmas tree by air over the Naughty Pines tree farm in Dickerson, Md., the perfect specimen has been identified. They found it in Anderson’s single engine Cirrus airplane, and all they have to do now is inspect it on the ground, cut it down, lift it onto a trailer, and haul it over to Mount Vernon Avenue.” [Zebra]
NORAD Exercises Planned Tonight — “Don’t be frightened if you see and hear military aircraft speeding overhead… The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is expected to conduct air exercises over the Washington area from Thursday night into early Friday morning. Flights are scheduled between midnight and 5:30 a.m.” [WTOP]
Alexandria wants you to plant a tree.
Specifically, the city needs some help to get 40 percent of the city covered with trees by 2035, a goal expressed in the city’s Environmental Action Plan.
A native tree sale is underway through Wednesday, Oct. 30, to encourage residents to plant trees native to Alexandria in their yard. Trees for sale include:
- Flowering Dogwood: $40
- Black Oak: $35
- Pitch Pine: $40
- Tulip Poplar: $20
- Chestnut Oak: $35
- White Oak: $40
- Black Gum: $40
For those without yards in which to plant, residents can also purchase a tree and have it planted at no cost on city property near their residence or at a local business, provided the site is approved by the city arborist.
Trees can either be purchased online or at the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center (5750 Sanger Avenue).
The city is already close to its tree canopy goals, achieving 36 percent in 2016, according to the Environmental Action Plan.