Manager's Report - September 13, 2013
Alexandria Neighborhood Stabilization Project
Office of Housing Implementation Division Chief, Shane Cochran, presented one of three featured case studies at the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s 2013 Housing Rehabilitation Conference. The presentation, “Keys to Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) Success; Making NSP Work in a Challenging Market,” described the City’s highly successful NSP partnership with Rebuilding Together Alexandria and the Alexandria Housing Development Corporation. With a grant of $936,955, the City exceeded its established NSP goals by 250 percent and was the first jurisdiction in Virginia to complete an acquisition, renovation, and resale of a foreclosed home under the program. The City’s program was particularly successful in assisting very low-income households in becoming homeowners with 70 percent of households served having an income below 50 percent of the area median income. In addition, the majority of NSP households included at least one child. Program beneficiaries included an Alexandria City Public School teacher, store clerks, a taxi driver and bank teller. The program is being continued with local funding as the Alexandria Neighborhood Stabilization Project.
Try Transit Week – September 16-20
The City’s Local Motion program and the Alexandria Transit Store will be recognizing Try Transit Week, September 16-20. The City’s Transit Store, located at 1775-C Duke Street, will highlight a different mode of transportation in the City each day. Prizes and giveaways are available for patrons that stop by. Try Transit Week is a statewide initiative coordinated by the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation. The focus is to encourage commuters throughout the State to try a different mode of transportation and track their trip on the Try Transit Week website.
Potomac River Waterfront Cleanup at Oronoco Bay Park
The City’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services, Office of Environmental Quality, is hosting a cleanup of the Oronoco Bay Park (100 Madison St.) on Saturday, September 21, from 10 a.m. to noon. The cleanup event is part of the Ocean Conservancy’s 28th Annual International Coastal Cleanup, which has been coordinated by Clean Virginia Waterways (CVW) for the last 18 years. Volunteers statewide will join together to clean our waterways and collect valuable data about trash and litter. CVW's cleanup events educate the public about litter prevention and freshwater and marine pollution.
New Bicycle Facilities, Street Resurfacing Planned on King Street
This fall, the City’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES), Maintenance and Transportation Planning Divisions, plan to conduct nighttime paving for portions of King Street from Callahan Drive to Janneys Lane. In conjunction with this project, T&ES is proposing to install bike lanes for this portion of the roadway, connecting the King Street Metro Station with the new bike lanes on Janneys Lane. Some parking spaces will be removed to install these bike facilities. A public meeting for community feedback is scheduled for September 18, at 7 p.m., in the Maury Elementary School cafeteria, located at 600 Russell Rd. The project will be presented at the City’s Traffic and Parking Board on September 23 at 7:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers of City Hall, located at 301 King St.
Metro to Host Public Hearings on Proposed Bus Service Changes
Metro will hold six public hearings between September 16 and 19 to evaluate service changes for several bus routes. Each meeting will begin with an Open House at 6 p.m., followed by a formal Public Hearing at 6:30 p.m., where all service change proposals are open for comment. The proposed changes are designed to serve more riders and improve efficiency, on-time performance and customer satisfaction. Metro is encouraging riders to participate in an online survey about the proposed changes through September 24.
Northern Virginia Community College Public Outreach
Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC) is making presentations to the Seminary West Civic Association and the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations about their campus development plans, which will result in the closing of East Campus Drive to through traffic. NVCC wishes to close East Campus Drive is in part because 1) the college is planning to locate its new education building in a portion of the right-of-way and 2) concerns about cut-through traffic. NVCC’s public outreach efforts are not as extensive as the City strongly recommended. NVCC’s application for the vacation of the emergency easement on East Campus Drive is on the October City Council public hearing docket.
New Division Chiefs in the Department of Planning and Zoning
The Department of Planning and Zoning has announced the selection of two new division chiefs. The new Development Division Chief is Rob Kerns, AICP. Kerns’ planning career has included both comprehensive planning and review of proposed development projects with an emphasis on high quality design that balances immediate community concerns and private market realities as well as long-term sustainability goals. For the past nine years, he was a Senior Associate at the consulting firm Wallace, Roberts and Todd in Philadelphia. He will start on October 14.
The new Land Use Services Division chief will be Alex Dambach, AICP. Dambach comes from Des Plaines, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where he served as Director of the Department of Community and Economic Development. Before that, he was the Director of the Department of Policy, Planning, and Development for the City of East Orange, New Jersey. Dambach will begin work at the end of September.
Alexandria’s Draft Civic Engagement Handbook Available for Community Review
The What’s Next Alexandria initiative to develop and implement strategies for improving civic engagement in Alexandria has reached a new milestone. Alexandria’s Draft Civic Engagement Handbook is now available for community review and feedback through October 11. From September 2012 through June 2013, members of the community collaborated with City staff, as well as appointed and elected officials, to talk about how Alexandrians can best participate in public decision-making processes that shape the City. The Civic Engagement Handbook represents the results of this collaborative work, including core principles, a framework for engagement, and communications and engagement strategies. All comments received during the public comment period will inform the final draft for public hearing and City Council consideration, tentatively scheduled for November 2013.
Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities Wins State Award
The Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities won the Best Promotional Effort Award for its Summer of Smiles! Summer Fun Guide. This guide promotes the summer recreational programs the Department offers including camps, sports, therapeutic and out of school time programs. The award was presented to City staff at the 2013 Virginia Recreation and Park Society Conference, which was held in Williamsburg September 7-10.
Alexandria Park and Recreation Commission to Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Plan for a New Park at 5325 Polk Avenue
The Alexandria Park and Recreation Commission will hold a public hearing on the draft design for improvements to the recently acquired open space property at 5325 Polk Avenue. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, September 19 at the Patrick Henry Recreation Center, 4643 Taney Ave. The City acquired this wooded natural area in December 2012. The City’s purchase of this 2.34 acre property used the $1.5 million provided by the Department of Defense to mitigate loss of open space in the West End, as well as $0.4 million in City Open Space funds. In the winter and spring of 2013 City staff held a public meeting and received public comments regarding the future design of the natural area. On June 15, City Council held a ribbon cutting for the property. The proposed plan will be posted online beginning Friday, September 13.