FYI Alexandria — July 2010
In This Edition...
City Approves Potomac Yard Transformation
On June 12, the Alexandria City Council approved a rezoning plan that provides a framework to transform the Potomac Yard Retail Center into a mixed-use, transit oriented urban community adjacent to the future site of a new Metrorail station and high-capacity transitway corridor. The 7.5 million square foot redevelopment, as proposed, is envisioned to occur in phases over the next 15 to 25 years.
Officially called North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan, the area comprises a 69-acre site currently owned by an institutional investor. City Council approved the rezoning of the existing 600,000 square foot Potomac Yard Retail Center to include up to 7.5 million square feet of development. The proposed Metrorail station, which may cost $240 million to construct, would be financed with over $81 million in contributions from the retail center’s owner, incremental new taxes generated by Potomac Yard development, and a proposed special tax district overlay in Potomac Yard.
The redevelopment process will move forward in phases that will 1) restrict the amount of development that can occur before the Metrorail station construction begins, 2) allow expanded development while the station is being constructed, and 3) then, permit full development after the station is operational. When the redevelopment is completed, the North Potomac Yard will feature multiple transportation options and an array of cultural, educational and recreational opportunities located next to the proposed Metrorail station. These elements all support the plan’s vision for creating an urban community with a compelling and lasting identity. For more information about Potomac Yard redevelopment, visit alexandriava.gov/PotomacYardPlan or call 703.746.4666.
The Edmonson Sisters Return to Alexandria
The likeness of two brave, determined sisters now graces 1701 Duke Street, at the new Edmonson Plaza. The City, in partnership with Carr Properties, dedicated “The Edmonson Sisters” last month. The statue and plaza at 1701 Duke Street are named for Emily and Mary Edmonson, who were imprisoned at the Bruin Slave Jail, which stood on this location in the 1840s. Abolitionists, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, launched a fundraising campaign and bought the girls’ freedom. Sculptor Erik Blome created a 10 foot-high bronze statue of the Edmonson sisters to commemorate their lives and others who were enslaved at the Bruin Slave Jail.
The Alexandria Archaeological Commission honored the project’s archaeology consultant, the Louis Berger Group, Inc., with a 2009 Ben Brenman Award for its revealing study of the Bruin Slave Jail site, which included ship manifests with the names of slaves Joseph Bruin owned.
City Welcomes New Farmers' Market
The Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market brings fresh, nutritious food to people of all income levels, provides an opportunity for local artisans and producers of goods to bring their wares to market, and strives to reflect the diversity of the community and improve the quality of life for Arlandria residents and visitors. The market is managed by the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market Management Team, with cooperation of the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. For more information about the Four Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market and about other City farmers’ markets, visit alexandriava.gov/FarmersMarket.
Commission on Persons with Disabilities Presents Annual Awards
At a City Hall reception on June 22, the Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities presented its annual awards, which honor an Alexandria student and a community advocate. The Gerry Bertier Scholarship, sponsored by HeimLantz CPAs, is awarded to a student with a disability seeking post-secondary education. The scholarship was established in honor of Gerry Bertier, a T.C. Williams graduate who became disabled after he co-captained the Titans football team during the fabled 1971 season.
This year’s Bertier Scholarship winner, Patricia Biava, graduated from T.C. Williams, where her personal development, leadership skills, and volunteerism exemplified the same spirit and record of achievement shown by Mr. Bertier. Biava will attend Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale to study Culinary Arts.
The John Duty Collins III Outstanding Advocate for Persons with Disabilities Award was established in 1989 in memory of John Duty Collins III, one of ACPD’s founders and a former Vice Chair. Patricia “Pat” Mason Beattie, posthumously named this year’s recipient, was an Alexandria resident and disability rights leader for more than 30 years. She was fully committed and dedicated to promoting independence, self-sufficiency, and unlimited opportunities for persons with disabilities and compiled a long and impressive list of achievements and accomplishments. The award includes a $500 donation in Beattie’s name to the American Council of the Blind, an organization chosen by her family.
Youth Mappers Chart Opportunities, Resources for Young People in the West End
What resources and opportunities exist for Alexandria youth in the City’s West End? Are there any gaps in youth services? What concerns, if any, do West End businesses have about youth substance abuse, teen pregnancy and gangs? From July 6 to August 13, teams of trained “youth mappers”— twenty teens, ages 15 to 18, supervised by adult team leaders—are undertaking a six-week community mapping project designed to answer these and other questions related to City youth. The mappers were selected by youth services organizations in Alexandria, and they are paid a minimum wage for their work.
Teams will visit neighborhoods in Alexandria’s West End to conduct formal interviews with managers and leaders of businesses, nonprofit organizations, faith-based communities, City sites and City schools. They will ask about existing programs and services, and explore perceptions about such issues as youth substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and gang activity. After the interviews, the mappers will enter the research data into a database that will be accessible to youth, service providers, community organizations, City and School officials, policymakers, and residents. Mappers will also develop a presentation with the findings of their research, including existing resources and service gaps.
The project is a collaborative effort organized by the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria. For more information, visit www.preventitalexandria.org or call 703.746.3670.
Temps Too Hot? Keep Your Cool!
Visit a rec center, library or City pool!
Happy Birthday, Alexandria!
With all the fireworks on the Fourth of July weekend, ever wonder why Alexandria celebrates its birthday during the second weekend in July? Because it was on July 13 and 14, 1749 that lots in Alexandria were first offered for public sale. An Act of the Virginia government on May 11, 1749, established the new town of Alexandria with boundaries extending from Oronoco St. to Duke St. and Royal St. to the Potomac River. Two months later, after local surveyor John West, Jr., laid out the town, 84 half-acre lots went up for sale. Therefore, the City of Alexandria celebrates its birthday during the second week-end in July to commemorate this significant event in its history–an event that predates the birth date of the United States of America by nearly 27 years.
Alexandria Archaeology Institute: A Learning Opportunity for Adults
Have you ever wanted to be an archaeologist? If so, then join the City Archaeologists October 21 – 24 for a unique opportunity: excavating the Shuter’s Hill site! Gain hands-on experience in site-excavation methods and record keeping. Learn how to use a transit; process and catalog artifacts in the laboratory; and interpret the information. The excavation site, located behind the George Washington Masonic Memorial, focuses on a late eighteenth-century plantation laundry and a mid nineteenth-century house. Learn about the history of the site and the development of the City of Alexandria. Registration fee includes daily morning coffee, an opening reception on Thursday evening, three box lunches, and a closing reception Sunday evening. Space is limited. For more information and to register online, visit alexandriava.gov/Archaeology or call 703.746.4399.
City Council Releases 2010 Strategic Plan
On June 22, the Alexandria City Council released its 2010 Strategic Plan, the culmination of a yearlong, citywide process to update the 2004 Strategic Plan, and to move the City forward in realizing the goals of the community.
From October 2009 through January 2010, City Council member teams convened nearly 40 meetings, and videotaped and posted a majority of the meetings to the City’s website. For the first time, the City offered the public the opportunity to post comments to alexandriava.gov and discuss the strategic direction of the City. More than 500 people participated in the strategic planning discussions, with many more participating through the City’s website.
The new Strategic Plan retains the 2004 Council’s collective vision for the City, but contains updated strategies that account for current economic challenges that Alexandria faces in delivering critical services to its residents. The plan contains goals, objectives, and outcomes measures in seven areas: 1) transportation; 2) children, youth and families; 3) development; 4) health and the environment; 5) public safety; 6) fiscal responsibility; and 7) social and community services.
To view the 2010 Strategic Plan and learn more about the strategic planning process, visit alexandriava.gov/StrategicPlanning.
A West End "Fish Story"
In May, some new “residents” settled into Ben Brenman Park on the City’s West End. They are 18 triploid grass carp, released into the park’s pond to control the growth of an aggressive aquatic plant, hydrilla. The 3.5-acre pond is part of the storm water management system for Cameron Station townhomes and Ben Brenman Park. The pond slows down the storm water that drains from lawns, gardens, roadways and other areas, which allows sediment, oils, salts, and fertilizers from lawns and gardens and other pollutants to settle and get trapped before the water empties into the Holmes Run Watershed.
When aquatic life in the pond is functioning properly, the water that leaves it is cleaner and healthier; however, storm water that contains excessive nitrogen and phosphorus can create an aquatic weed bloom that detracts from the pond’s appearance and chokes out other aquatic life. Currently, the Ben Brenman pond is now more than 50% colonized by hydrilla; without intervention, the entire pond would become choked with this weed.
The (sterile) triploid grass carp have become a primary biological management tool for hydrilla all over the country. Locally, in 1992, these fish were released into the Winkler ponds with great success, eliminating the need for herbicide. The fish released by the City last month were about 10 inches long and weighed about a pound; typically, in Virginia, triploid grass carp can reach 20 pounds and live from 5 to 11 years. City staff will monitor the pond’s aquatic life and review how the hydrilla responds to this control strategy.
First Annual Alexandria Youth Arts Festival
Saturday, August 14, 2010 – 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Jefferson-Houston Elem. School
1501 Cameron St.
This inaugural event features children’s activities, crafts, exhibits, music and spoken word. This festival is co-sponsored by the City, the Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority, and the Northern Virginia Urban League. Interested in displaying your art or performing? Download the application at http://images.ufollowup.com/EYA/AlexYouth.pdf.
Admission is FREE.
Healthy Foods Alexandria Fresh Food and Health Fair
Saturday, August 28 – 1 - 3 p.m.
Charles Houston Rec. Center
901 Wythe St.
Watch local chefs prepare healthy meals, sample delicious and nutritious food, learn new recipes and enter to win exciting prizes. Fun activities for children. Free nutrition and health counseling. Recipes and cooking demonstrations by local chefs. FREE.
Alexandria Restaurant Week
August 20-29, 2010
60 restaurants offer a $35 prix-fixe three-course dinner, $35 dinner for two, or $3.50 sweet treat in this 10-day gourmet event. Participants include Bastille, La Bergerie, the Grille at Morrison House, Del Merei Grille, A La Lucia, Tempo, Cheesetique, Fontaine Caffé & Creperie, and ACKC Cocoa Bar. 703-746-3301. Menus and online reservations on VisitAlexandriaVA.com.