Beyer Criticizes Pence Over Second Wave Comments — “Over 116,000 Americans have died. Over 2,000,000 have gotten sick. The person appointed by the President to lead the response (you) flout basic safety precautions recommended by the CDC to prevent spread of the virus as more people get sick.” [Twitter]
Alexandria DMV Opening June 22 by Appointment Only — “The validity of driver’s licenses and identification cards expiring on or before July 31, 2020, is extended for 90 days, not to exceed August 31, 2020. This means that a customer whose credential expired between March 15 and May 31 will have 90 days beyond the expiration date to renew, and credentials with an expiration date from June 1 to July 31 must be renewed no later than August 31, 2020. Vehicle registrations that expire in March, April, and May are extended for 90 days; those expiring in June are extended for 60 days; and those expiring in July are extended for 30 days. In addition, the federal enforcement date for REAL IDs was moved to October 1, 2021.” [DMV]
Mind The Mat Offering Outdoor Fitness Classes — “We’re outdoors! Of course our virtual classes are here to stay but check out our schedule each week to see our outdoor schedule!” [Facebook]
City Pools Opening Next Month With Restrictions — “Outdoor pools will open on July 1 under Virginia’s phase two reopening guidance.” [Patch]
Who Alexandria Schools Are Named After — “Here’s who (or what) Alexandria’s school buildings are named after, with links to learn more information about each person.” [Alexandria Living]
Patagonia Opening in September in Old Town — “Patagonia, the outdoor clothing and gear company, is moving into the Old Town Theater space on King Street. Construction stopped in March due to concerns about coroanvirus, but the company is planning to resume construction in early September and open just a few weeks later.” [Alexandria Living]
New Job: DASH Bus is Hiring — “Join the DASH team! We’re looking for operators.” [Facebook]
Despite the coronavirus pandemic and economic woes afflicting Alexandrians, there’s a rare bright spot today: the art project at Waterfront Park in Old Town is nearly complete and on-course to be finished next week.
The designs for the new art project from Olalekan Jeyifous at the park were first unveiled last year. They depict silhouetted figures representing the city’s history of slavery and its role in building the industries Alexandria was later known for.
Many of the silhouettes are currently in place at the park, with the images on the ground evocative of African-American quilting.
The project is still on track to be completed by Friday, March 27, according to city spokesperson Craig Fifer.
The Alexandria Planning Commission unanimously approved a new maritime center for the Tall Ship Providence on Tuesday night.
If passed by city council, the 18th-century replica ship will be docked at a new floating pier at Waterfront Park.
The proposed, L-shaped, 5,300 square-foot floating pier would be located in the center of the southern portion of the park. The pier would be home to two 17-foot-tall cottages, both 768 square feet, to accommodate visitors with a theater area for historical presentations, a gift shop, restrooms and a ticket office.
Additionally, a security gate would be installed where the gangway meets with the floating pier.
“We’re very excited to have a home for the Tall Ship Providence. That’s been in the works for quite some time now,” Cathy Puskar, an attorney for the Alexandria-based Tall Ship Providence Foundation, told the commission.
The ship sailed into Alexandria last summer and is still awaiting inspection approval by the U.S. Coast Guard before it can start welcoming visitors. It has been docked on the waterfront at a pier just north of the Torpedo Factory for several months, and plans call for it to open to the public as soon as that inspection is complete.
Speaking before the Planning Commission, Old Town resident Mike Budinski said he is concerned that the new pier and cottages will block the view of the Potomac.
“I think the so-called cottages, basically they’re quite large buildings, actually, their footprint is actually larger than my house in Old Town, and they’re tall, so they’re going to have a silhouette,” Budinski said. “I’m down there all the time, even at dawn almost every morning. What’s funny is that on Saturday, Sunday and even Monday mornings is how you see all the chairs lined up on the bulkhead, on the break wall aimed at the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. People really love that view of the southern corridor.”
The pier would be able to accommodate a maximum of 150 people at one time, and groups of 25 would rotate between the two cottages and the ship, according to a city staff report. The Tall Ship Providence Foundation also wants to serve beer, wine and mixed drinks on the new pier.
You might have also noticed that there is an existing pier at Waterfront Park. Under the proposal, the pier, which is used by the Alexandria Seaport Foundation, would be removed.
According to a filing, plans for the pier include:
- Cottage #1 would include two single-occupancy restrooms and storage space
- The sewage from the restrooms will be held in a storage tank under the structure
- Cottage #2 would include a ticket office, gift shop and theater area to provide information on maritime history and the ship
- The pier would extend 126 feet from the shoreline and into waters controlled by the District of Columbia
- The shoreline for this area is part of the city’s future Flood Mitigation Implementation project and Waterfront Improvements plan. As such, the structures are proposed to be temporary until future flood mitigation efforts begin
- The roof of the cottages will be covered with solar panels or solar roof tiles
- Hours of operation would be from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday and holidays
It was quite a year in Alexandria. It’s safe to say that 202o will be just as busy, but in the meantime let’s take a look at the top stories from the last year.
1. The Seminary Road Diet
Few local transportation stories have gotten as much attention as City Council’s 4-3 decision on the Seminary Road diet. The move seems simple enough — consolidating from four to two lanes in both directions between N. Quaker Lane and Howard Street with a turn lane in the middle and bike lanes on both sides. Public discord over the change prompted the creation of a Facebook page, which has dramatically turned up the temperature on the issue, even leading to City Councilwoman Amy Jackson to publicly call for a complete reversal on the decision and restart of the process.
See: More Work on Seminary Road This Spring If the State Will Pony Up the Cash
More: Virginia Theological Seminary Weighs In Favor of Seminary Road Diet
2. Legendary Titans Pass Away
Alexandria lost a number of inspiring figures in 2019, including members of the state championship-winning 1971 T.C. Williams High School football team. The team, who were immortalized in the 2000 film “Remember The Titans” starring Denzel Washington, lost coach Herman Boone, assistant coach Bill Yoast and players Petey Jones and Julius Campbell.
3. ACPS fully Accredited for First Time in 20 Years
It took two decades, and in September Alexandria City Public Schools system announced that all of the city’s public schools reached their state mandated benchmarks to be fully accredited for the 2019-2020 academic year. Superintendent Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings said that the success didn’t come by chance and that it took six superintendents and a lot of “planning, preparation and dedication for all students to experience success regardless of their life circumstances” to get ACPS where it is today.
All ACPS Schools Fully Accredited for First Time in 20 Years – ACPS Express https://t.co/mjsBbdCHM9
— Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. (@DrHutchings) September 30, 2019
4. Ground Broken at Potomac Yard Metro Station
After decades of finalizing plans and making deals, ground was finally broken in December for the construction of the Potomac Yard Metro station. The plan is to open the $320 million station by spring 2022, and while development will result in the demolition of the Regal Potomac Yard movie theater, the area will positively be booming with the eventual addition of the Virginia Tech Innovation Campus, a new mixed-use redevelopment, Amazon HQ2 in Crystal City and much more.
“This has been a quarter-century in the making,” Mayor Justin Wilson said at the groundbreaking. “This is a big… deal.”
5. Alexandria’s Summer Metro Shutdown
Did you have to get creative in your commute over the summer? You weren’t alone. Thousands of commuters in the area were forced to make alternate plans so that Metro could make crucial improvements to all of the station platforms south of the Reagan National Airport station. The shutdown meant expanded Metro and DASH bus routes, morning trolley rides from the King Street station, Potomac Riverboat Company Water Taxi ferries from the Alexandria Waterfront into the District and more. The renovation is part of a $300-$400 million project to rebuild 20 outdoor platforms throughout the Metro system. Once reopened, commuters were introduced to new speakers for clearer public announcements and emergency notifications, stainless-steel platform shelters, passenger information display screens and energy-efficient LED lighting.
— The Zebra (@ZebraAlexandria) September 9, 2019
A plan to replace a disused pier would help the Old Dominion Boat Club bring more boats to Alexandria and hopefully make the waterfront a little cleaner.
In plans submitted to the City of Alexandria, the boat club in Old Town laid out its vision for replacing an outdated and disused wharf just to the south of the club’s location on The Strand with a new pier and floating dock.
The current pier is a fixed, L-shape, but hasn’t been used for mooring since the Boat Club moved to its present location. According to the application, the boat club plans to replace the existing pier with a combination of fixed piers extending eastward and a floating pier to the south.
Additionally, the boat club said the current pier is too low in the water and its fixed nature means that organic material and trash are blocked in and collected near the river’s edge. The new fixed pier would be higher than the other, allowing refuse to be flushed away from the waterfront.
Other measures in the application would involve removing old and unused piles in the water that currently slow the water and keep debris trapped up at the river’s edge.
According to the application:
The floating pier will provide facilities for transient boat mooring for larger boats due to the water depth along its expanse and for rowing crew shells and chase boats either for planned events/regattas or emergency needs. The ODBC also proposes to add a floating wharf over the shallow water in its riparian rights to allow and support current and new uses that include small boat mooring and launch and retrieval of crew shells and kayaks to support increased recreational use of the Potomac River.
Alexandria’s Old Dominion Boat Club was founded in 1880 and has relocated three times throughout its life, most recently to the foot of Prince Street after the city threatened eminent domain to take the building they had been located in since 1924 — currently Waterfront Park.
The application notes that the new wharf would encourage recreational waterfront use at the pier while the main Prince Street location would support transient boat mooring and daily marine uses.
The item was scheduled to be voted on at a Planning Commission meeting tonight (Tuesday) but has been deferred.
Photo (top) via City of Alexandria, (bottom) via Google Maps
The concept renderings from artist Olalekan Jeyifous feature four three-dimensional silhouettes, each roughly 11 feet tall, with industrial imagery carved into the bodies. The figures will face out towards the river. The ground of the plaza will be covered with a pattern referencing African-American quilting — mixing traditional symbols with ones that represent industries from the city’s past — like an armory and rail tracks.
The art would replace the Mirror Mirror installation — which also reflected a piece of the city’s history. The displays are part of a series by different artists called Site See: New Views in Old Town.
Diane Ruggiero, director of the Office of the Arts, unveiled the designs to the Waterfront Commission yesterday (Tuesday) morning. The designs were approved at the Arts Commission meeting that evening.
Ruggiero said Jeyifous visited Alexandria in the spring and went on a tour around town. Jeyifous’ visit to the Freedom House (1315 Duke Street) — once the headquarters of the largest domestic slave trading firm in the United States — was one of the visits that ultimately helped shape the project, Ruggiero said.
The artwork is expected to be installed in March, according to Ruggiero.
Update 3 p.m. — For the second week in a row, the correct answer is lighthouse related. The Mirror Mirror project is inspired by the Fresnel lens of Alexandria’s Jones Point Lighthouse, according to the City of Alexandria website.
We’re back with Friday trivia!
Like last week, we’ll post a trivia question at 9:30 a.m. Comments are disabled to keep people from posting the answers. Play fair, make your best guess, and check back in at 3 p.m. when we post the answer.
For today’s trivia question, we’re taking a look at the Mirror Mirror art display at Waterfront Park at the foot of King Street. The display was created by SOFTlab, a New York-based design studio led by artist and architect Michael Szivos. The interior’s surface is tinted with full-spectrum of color with lights that respond to sound.
Staff Photo by Jay Westcott
Improvements and changes are coming to the Waterfront Park over the next few weeks.
Mirror Mirror, the circular art exhibit currently on display in the park, had originally been scheduled to remain on display through the end of next month, but at a Waterfront Commission Meeting on Tuesday staff said the installation will be removed the first week of November.
Staff also said a portion of the park will be closed for 3-5 weeks to replace lawn panels. Several light fixtures in the park will also be replaced with LED lighting. Lighting in the older section of the park south of King Street was noticeably darker than the area at the foot of King Street, staff said, so the new LED lights should equalize that.
Further south, the city is still struggling with debris at Windmill Hill Park. Some of the trash is brought in by the tides, but staff is laying some of the blame at the webbed feet of mischievous local geese.
The park is still within a one-year warranty with the contractor that built the project; staff said they are currently in discussions over the condition of the shoreline. Goose mitigation efforts are also in place to help hold back some of the debris.