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Last updated: Mon, 16 Jul 2018 18:11:21 GMT

 Metro strike possible ahead of All-Star Game Mon, 16 Jul 2018 21:52:17 +0000
As WMATA prepares for a high volume of travelers heading to and from the Washington All-Star Game on Tuesday, a strike looms. Metro employees voted Sunday to give union leadership authorization to strike, ATU Local 689 announced Monday. Members voted “yes” to planning a strike by a margin of 94 percent, according to a news […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

As WMATA prepares for a high volume of travelers heading to and from the Washington All-Star Game on Tuesday, a strike looms.

Metro employees voted Sunday to give union leadership authorization to strike, ATU Local 689 announced Monday. Members voted “yes” to planning a strike by a margin of 94 percent, according to a news release.

A Metro statement issued at 1:33 p.m. on Monday said discussions between WMATA and union officials were “ongoing.” WMATA’s board of directors released a statement about the potential strike later on Monday afternoon, saying collective bargaining was the path forward. 

“First and foremost, it is important to keep the customers in mind – those who rely on Metro service every day, who support the regional economy and our federal government. To ensure that Metro is always there for the millions who rely on us, the region has made a commitment to increase capital investment in Metro with the understanding that a similar commitment be made by Metro to tackle tough issues, involving solving growing costs,” the statement from WMATA’s board read.

“General Manager [Paul Wiedefeld] and his team are working to make these difficult decisions while also protecting current employees. We must find solutions together by continuing to talk and listen, as Chairman Evans recently did in a meeting with union leadership. The collective bargaining process is appropriate and legal path to finding solutions,” the statement continued. 

WMATA workers haven’t organized a strike since 1978 – a strike that lasted a week and occurred without the authorization of union leadership. ATU Local 689 said in a news release that it doesn’t plan to make a timeline of the strike public. 

The potential strike comes at a precarious time for Metro. WMATA announced in May that several Metro stations, including all of Alexandria’s stations, will be closed during the summer of 2019 for renovations. In addition, the elimination of the planned Potomac Yard Metro’s southern entrance from the station’s plans has drawn ire from Alexandria residents. 

The MLB’s All-Star Game, which will take place at Nationals Park, starts Tuesday at 8 p.m. 

 

 

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 Police: Suspect, victim identified in Old Town homicide Fri, 13 Jul 2018 16:37:43 +0000
A suspect has been charged with homicide after a man was found deceased in an Old Town business, police reported on Friday afternoon. Police identified the victim as Bradford Jackson, 65, of Alexandria, and the suspect as Pankaj Bhasin, 34, of New Jersey, on Saturday afternoon. Police were dispatched to the business in the 1200 […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

A suspect has been charged with homicide after a man was found deceased in an Old Town business, police reported on Friday afternoon.

Police identified the victim as Bradford Jackson, 65, of Alexandria, and the suspect as Pankaj Bhasin, 34, of New Jersey, on Saturday afternoon.

Police were dispatched to the business in the 1200 block of King Street at approximately 11:49 a.m. A deceased man was found at the scene.

Bhasin was charged with the murder and is being held without bond in the Alexandria Detention Center. 

Police are continuing to investigate and didn’t believe there was a further threat to the public. 

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Detective Loren King at 703-746-6689.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available. 

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 Foodie: Hot summer cocktails that will cool you down this summer Thu, 12 Jul 2018 20:26:32 +0000
By Nick Farrell Summer breeze makes us feel fine, and refreshing summer cocktails make us feel even better. Now that the heat is challenging us in ways it seems to never have before, bars and ambitious home imbibers are finding more inventive ways to cool off, or at the very least, forget about the heat. Here are […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Nick Farrell

Summer breeze makes us feel fine, and refreshing summer cocktails make us feel even better.

Now that the heat is challenging us in ways it seems to never have before, bars and ambitious home imbibers are finding more inventive ways to cool off, or at the very least, forget about the heat. Here are three summer trends that will have you drinking liquid shade.

Vermouth

It’s not your grandfather’s drink anymore, and now there are new styles and flavors to create all sorts of cocktails. Bars across the area are taking advantage of local products to offer new flavors to titillate tipplers. Flying Fox, Capitoline and Mt. Defiance are three Virginia and D.C. brands producing a number of styles that you can sip on the rocks with a twist of citrus, lengthened with a little club soda, or in your own unique Manhattan or Negroni. At Vermilion here in Alexandria, we offer Flying Fox local and seasonal vermouth for sipping.

Compostable cocktails

Nobody likes waste – and bars, like your own kitchen, can sometimes be the biggest culprits. Maybe you’ve already started seeing paper straws, or “straws on request,” and dehydrated fruit garnishes, or other creative ways that bars are finding to make sure there’s less waste. At home, you might have already started turning that excess basil you were growing into pesto that you’ll freeze in ice cube trays for the winter.

If you found that you overzealously bought fruits and vegetables at the farmer’s market this week and now they’re bordering on overripe, you can give fruit a second life by making a sangria with it. Sangria is ripe for riffs with that almost-turned fruit and two-day-old wine, and a great way to make a few drinks at once.

Low alcohol cocktails

Did I mention that it’s hot? It’s hot. Nothing is going to slow you down more in the summer like a big martini. Worse yet, that martini is going to get warm quickly while you’re sitting by the pool as the condensation beads on the outside of your glass.There’s nothing worse than a tepid, strong gin-based cocktail. As we all know, alcohol is dehydrating. When
thinking about making a refreshing drink, try omitting base spirits like vodka, gin, whiskey or mezcal. Instead, reach for a liqueur, amaro or fortified wine, and build your cocktail from there. Instead of a vodka lemonade, you can find yourself drinking a St. Germain sparkling lemonade, omitting some of the sugar in the lemonade, too.

My personal favorite low-alcohol drink is an Americano: Campari and sweet vermouth with sparkling water and garnished with a twist of orange. If you want to get your hands dirty in the kitchen, try the Vermilion brunch favorite the Summer Breeze, which incorporates plenty of summer flavor. 

All told, there’s nearly no wrong way to drink in the summer, unless it’s drinking too much.

How to make a summer breeze 

Ingredients

Recipe

1 oz. Cappelletti (a wine-based aperitivo similar to Campari. If you can’t find it,
Campari will work in a pinch)
.5 oz. grapefruit
.5 oz. lime
.5 oz. ginger simple syrup (simmer together 2 cups sugar, 2 cups water and 8 oz
chopped fresh ginger until dissolved, let it cool and stand for 1 hour, strain)

Directions

Add these ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice, shake and strain into a champagne
flute. Top with sparkling wine.

Nick Farrell is the spirits manager at Vermilion at 1120 King St. Vermilion is part of Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

 

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 Small Business Spotlight: Threadleaf owner moves from White House to retail Thu, 12 Jul 2018 19:57:07 +0000
By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com Nicole McGrew didn’t envision opening a boutique of her own when she left her job at the White House in January 2017. McGrew attended Fashion Institute of Technology before moving to the D.C. area to attend law school at Georgetown University. After graduating, she worked in private practice, then as assistant general counsel […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Alexa Epitropoulos | aepitropoulos@alextimes.com

Nicole McGrew didn’t envision opening a boutique of her own when she left her job at the White House in January 2017.

McGrew attended Fashion Institute of Technology before moving to the D.C. area to attend law school at Georgetown University. After graduating, she worked in private practice, then as assistant general counsel in the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs before joining President Barack Obama’s White House in the Office of National Drug Policy.

She left the White House during the administration changeover after Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016 – and took time to focus on what she wanted to do next.

“I was really taking a break and figuring out what I wanted to do, and then I just really kept thinking about that saying ‘Find what you would do for free, and then do that for a living,’” McGrew said.

With her background in fashion and talent for giving good fashion advice, McGrew realized there was something missing in Alexandria’s boutique scene.

“I really wanted a space here in Alexandria where you could get really clean basics for work

Threadleaf carries a number of eco-conscious brands (Photo Credit: Alexa Epitropoulos)

that you could wear all day if you wanted to,” McGrew said.

She began laying the groundwork for a boutique in August 2017, settling on the concept, the brands it would carry, its location and its mission. She decided to call the store Threadleaf after doing extensive research on native Northern Virginia plants – a name, she said, that fit into her business’ eco-conscious focus.

McGrew placed a heavy emphasis on brands that were sustainable and responsible. She aimed to create a store for women in the professional world and those who, like her, wanted alternatives to the traditional pantsuit.

“I hardly ever wore suits when I was practicing. I hated suits. So I wanted to find those alternatives where you could still be professional and see that you didn’t need to wear a suit, and then be comfortable on top of that [and also] making sure that they’re natural fabrics and they’re easy to care for,” McGrew said. “There are very few things in [my boutique] that need to be dry cleaned.”

She started the process by emailing brands she wore and respected, saying she wanted to work with them. She said she received responses from about 50 percent of the brands she emailed and, from there, she found trade shows to attend.

“Getting into your first show is really hard because they want to make sure you’re a legitimate business and not just someone who wants to come in and look around,” McGrew said. “It’s just like with everything – it’s getting your foot in the door, but once that door is cracked …”

The exterior of Threadleaf on Royal Street (Photo Credit: Alexa Epitropoulos)

Once she had the concept and brands in place, she set her mind to finding a location.
The Rosemont resident eventually settled on an Old Town space at 121 S. Royal St. Her space was previously occupied by Lawrence Miller & Co., which has rebranded to Alexandria & Co. Alexandria & Co. owns the building and has moved to a different space within the same building. Threadleaf is next to Fontaine Caffe & Crêperie and across the street from Forge Industrial Works.

“I like this street because it’s a bunch of smaller businesses,” McGrew said. “My
husband and I went to Amsterdam for our 10-year anniversary, and I remember
looking at all these shops. They were all different, they all had their own character, their cute little window displays, and that’s what I love about this street.”

Her boutique opened in May over Mother’s Day weekend. It carries brands like
Jungmaven, Fog Linen Work and Zuri Kenya.

McGrew said she utilizes the organizational skills and multitasking ability honed during her law career in her new venture.

“I’m using both sides of my brain. I have Excel sheets for my inventory and buying plan, but then I also love being on Instagram and I love posting things. Those are things you can’t do as a government lawyer,” McGrew said.

McGrew said she enjoys interacting with customers at the boutique and said she’s received positive feedback from the community so far.

“In some ways, I feel if I had opened a store earlier, straight from FIT, I feel that it would have been very different than what it is now,” McGrew said. “Knowing so many women in this area and just listening to my friends at work and my friends here about what they want when they get dressed in the morning, it’s helped me funnel and shape the store and that sort of practical focus [that’s] also very fashion-forward.”

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 Del Ray Music Festival returns Saturday Thu, 12 Jul 2018 19:26:10 +0000
By Duncan Agnew | dagnew@alextimes.com  The Del Ray Music Festival returns Saturday as 11 local bands take the stage for the biggest musical event of the summer in Alexandria from 3 to 8 p.m. Two stages will occupy the Pat Miller Neighborhood Square at the intersection of Mt. Vernon Avenue and Oxford Avenue. Seven Del […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Duncan Agnew | dagnew@alextimes.com 

The Del Ray Music Festival returns Saturday as 11 local bands take the stage for the biggest musical event of the summer in Alexandria from 3 to 8 p.m.
Two stages will occupy the Pat Miller Neighborhood Square at the intersection of Mt. Vernon Avenue and Oxford Avenue.

Seven Del Ray restaurants are hosting beer gardens for the afternoon as diverse tunes from rock to reggae rain down on listeners. The audience will be treated to both first-time performers like indie pop artist Den-Mate and experienced returning acts like Feel Free.

The festival is free and open to any and all music enthusiasts. Three blocks of Mt. Vernon Avenue nearest to the stages will be closed to traffic for the afternoon.

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 Our View: A season of transition at ACPS Thu, 12 Jul 2018 19:25:50 +0000
Summer is many things. It’s generally viewed as a time for rest and relaxation. For students and their families, summer often entails time spent at the beach or visiting out-of-town family. Chores or projects that are put off during the hectic school year may finally get done. Summer reading is a pleasure many adults anticipate, […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Summer is many things.

It’s generally viewed as a time for rest and relaxation. For students and their families, summer often entails time spent at the beach or visiting out-of-town family. Chores or projects that are put off during the hectic school year may finally get done. Summer reading is a pleasure many adults anticipate, generally to a greater extent than their children.

As School Board Chair Ramee Gentry makes clear in her column this week, Alexandria City Public Schools makes good use of the summer to prepare for the imminent school year. ACPS is also undergoing a significant transition: Interim Superintendent Lois Berlin stepped aside at the end of June and Gregory Hutchings Jr., a graduate of T.C. Williams High School, just took the reins of the school system.

This transition presents an opportunity for another useful summertime activity: taking stock of both current status and future goals.

Berlin made a significant mark on ACPS in just one year at the helm, as detailed in the Times’ July 5 story, “Lois Berlin reflects on year as superintendent.” Several significant milestones took place during her tenure, including readying Ferdinand Day School in Alexandria’s West End, which will open this fall, and taking part in the joint city-schools task force, which concluded earlier this year.

Berlin’s most significant accomplishments were helping tear down the silos between ACPS and city government, and her accessibility was on full display at meetings and events around the city.

Her commitment to being approachable mirrored that of Mayor Allison Silberberg. Because accessibility is not easily quantifiable, it is also easily overlooked – but it’s important.

Berlin’s approach offered a sharp contrast to the last two permanent ACPS superintendents, Alvin Crawley and, before him, Mort Sherman, neither of whom could have been called accessible, nor particularly successful in their respective tenures.

Now, there is a palpable excitement surrounding native son Hutchings coming home to run the city’s schools. In today’s page 1 story, “Hutchings takes helm,” the new superintendent makes it clear he plans to build on the progress made this past year under Berlin. We are encouraged to hear Hutchings say that he also plans to be accessible and active in the community at ACPS and city events.

Hutchings also has rightly prioritized addressing school capacity, particularly at the high school level, saying he hopes to have three clear options for proceeding identified by December. As enrollment at T.C. Williams has increased by more than 26 percent in the past five years – and is expected to top 4,000 students this fall – quickly mapping out a course of action is essential.

But it’s also vital that those options be formed with real public input. If we have learned anything from the controversy over the Potomac Yard Metro Station, it’s that the public has to be involved and informed when expensive, city-altering projects are being developed.

Hutchings said he has a 100-day plan for his new post. We look forward to seeing how he proceeds. And we wish him well. Alexandria needs for him to have a long, successful tenure as superintendent.

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 Filling in the Blanks with Ramee Gentry: Summer is busy for our schools Thu, 12 Jul 2018 19:21:50 +0000
By Ramee Gentry For many, summer is a time to slow down, relax a bit and take a break from the day-to-day to enjoy summer fun. At Alexandria City Public Schools, however, we swing into high gear over the summer. First let me welcome our new Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. He […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Ramee Gentry

For many, summer is a time to slow down, relax a bit and take a break from the day-to-day to enjoy summer fun. At Alexandria City Public Schools, however, we swing into high gear over the summer.

First let me welcome our new Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. He is already hard at work collaborating with staff and administrators, building relationships with the city manager, the mayor and city council and focused on the work needed to get our schools ready for students in September.

Because many of our school buildings are without children for much of the summer, it’s an ideal time to undertake projects that would be difficult or impossible to complete when our buildings are full of students and staff and alive with learning.

Each summer, all school buildings undergo a full inspection and routine maintenance to ensure that they are running safely and efficiently when our students return in the fall. We also undertake large-scale maintenance and improvement projects in some schools.

The kitchen and cafeteria spaces at George Washington and Francis C. Hammond middle schools are undergoing renovations that will result in more efficient serving and enhanced seating areas. Hammond will also undergo exterior improvements that will significantly improve the building’s climate control and overall appearance. GW will undergo improvements to its HVAC system that should eliminate some of the issues it had last school year.

Almost every school has projects that are being completed over the summer, including the painting and updating of classrooms and offices, playground improvement and storm water management projects, plumbing upgrades, energy efficiency LED lighting projects, a roof replacement, a basketball court renovation and more. You can learn more about these projects on the ACPS website at www.acps.k12.va.us/summerprojects.

Construction continues on the new Patrick Henry School and in our newest elementary community at Ferdinand T. Day Elementary School. Some members of the school board recently had an opportunity to take a hard hat tour of the Ferdinand T. Day building and see the beautiful classrooms with abundant natural light and views of trees. It’s really inspiring to see these new schools taking shape. We look forward to a meeting with the community on Aug. 9 and welcoming our students to their new school on Sept. 4.

Patrick Henry is slated to open in early 2019. You can see the work at Patrick Henry almost as it happens by viewing the time-lapse video at www.acps.k12.va.us/phproject.

While our schools are undergoing routine maintenance and additional facilities projects, some of our buildings and classrooms are abuzz with academic activity with the launch of summer school this week. Students at all grade levels have the opportunity to take part. T.C. Williams High School students are engaged in learning on campus and online.

The new T.C. Williams Governor’s Health Sciences Academy kicked off this week with enrolled students engaged in a bridge program that will ensure a strong start this fall. Some high schoolers will take the Advanced Placement Boot Camp designed to help students develop the skills needed to successfully complete an AP course.

Other students are getting algebra support through the Algebra Boot Camp. Students enrolled in dual language programs receive additional exposure to Spanish through the Summer Language Academy, while some will engage in free music and theatre camps and more. Later this summer, some students will attend orientation programs as they prepare to enter kindergarten, middle and high school to help facilitate the transition to their new schools and ensure they start the school year strong.

We also know that hunger does not take a break over the summer, so we, along with the city, participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture summer food program, which provides all Alexandria youth 18 and younger access to free breakfast, lunch and snacks at various school and city locations throughout Alexandria. Children do not need to be enrolled in a program in order to access the free meals. Just text the word “food” or “comidas” to 877877 to find the dates, times and locations nearest you, or visit www.acps.k12.va.us/summerfood.

Summer is really a busy time at ACPS. We’re steadfast in our commitment to serving our students throughout the year — with a different focus and intensity over the summer.

I hope that you are having a fun and relaxing summer. Have an extra dip of ice cream for all of us at ACPS.

The writer is chair of the Alexandria City School Board.

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 Paving the way for Robinson Landing Thu, 12 Jul 2018 19:14:10 +0000
By Duncan Agnew | dagnew@alextimes.com After archaeologists found a centuries-old ship during Hotel Indigo’s construction in 2015, many suspected they might find historic artifacts at the future Robinson Landing site. They didn’t know they were stumbling into one of the most richly preserved archaeological sites in the city. “The fact that the whole block is […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

By Duncan Agnew | dagnew@alextimes.com

After archaeologists found a centuries-old ship during Hotel Indigo’s construction in 2015, many suspected they might find historic artifacts at the future Robinson Landing site. They didn’t know they were stumbling into one of the most richly preserved archaeological sites in the city.

“The fact that the whole block is pretty much preserved was incredible,” Garrett Fesler, archaeologist for the city, said. “…That was like finding a treasure trove. It was like looking at a neighborhood that was once standing there 200 some years ago because the foundations were all there.”

City archaeologists partnered with Thunderbird Archaeology, a contractor for EYA, to excavate the site when Thunderbird discovered the three ships in March during the site’s archaeological excavation. The two have worked together at the site since construction began and have, in addition to the ships, uncovered the remnants of Pioneer Mills, a 19th-century flour mill that once stood on the Robinson Terminal South site.

Two of those ships have been removed and taken to offsite storage facilities until the city decides on a long-term plan for the vessels. For now, pieces of those ships remain stabilized in carefully monitored water tanks. Parts of the third ship will be removed and relocated this fall, but a portion of the ship will remain at the site underneath Robinson Landing construction.

Scientists at a Texas A&M University lab recently started a five-year preservation process on the timbers from the ship found at the Hotel Indigo site. The project involves replacing the water in the timbers with a wax-like substance, Alexandria City Archaeologist Eleanor Breen said.

Construction on Robinson Landing, which will eventually include an underground parking garage, 26 townhouse units and 70 condominiums, has continued alongside archaeological excavation over the last several months, but Breen and Fesler said development and historic conservation can live in harmony in the present day.

“It’s pretty common on urban archaeology sites for archaeology to be happening and construction to be happening at the same time,” Breen said. “…Historic preservation and development in an urban environment are compatible and part of a vibrant historic district and a vibrant historic city, so a lot of the archaeological work that gets done in the city is shared with the public in all sorts of ways you can imagine.”

For instance, Breen said, the lobby of Hotel Indigo now features an archaeological blueprint of the ship that was excavated at the site prior to the hotel’s construction.

Breen and Fesler said developers like EYA and local archaeologists have learned to cooperate over time due to the city’s decades-old archaeological protection code. Today, Alexandria Archaeology—headed by Breen—essentially acts as an oversight committee to ensure the proper preservation of historic artifacts discovered in the city.

“We understand that we’re not in the job of trying to stop or slow down development,” Fesler said. “I think, over the years since the preservation code has been in place, that most folks who develop here in Alexandria understand that that’s another box for them to check when they develop.”

Mac Lab conservators are setting up straps to lift the sternpost and shaft portion of the keel of the third ship discovered at Robinson Landing (Photo Credit: EYA, LLC)

The third ship has, however, presented city archaeologists and Thunderbird with an obstacle. The final ship left is located below Wolfe Street, in the area where EYA plans to build an 80-foot slurry wall to serve as the framework for a two-level underground parking deck.

After this slurry wall is in place, archaeologists will excavate, record and remove the part of the ship within the planned parking garage, Breen said. However, the section of the ship that protrudes below Wolfe Street will remain undisturbed.

“We’ll be parking on it,” Fesler said.

Old Town resident Hal Hardaway, who lives across the street from Robinson Landing, said he’s frustrated by the decision to leave part of the ship unexcavated.

“I do have a little bit of a problem with [the project],” Hardaway said. “I think it could have been done smarter.”

Hardaway also disagrees with the numerous committee meetings that have been held regarding the Robinson Landing ships. He said the ideal solution is obvious.

“You’ve got four ships,” Hardaway said. “Save as much as you can and distribute it along the waterfront.”

Hardaway, however, did praise city archaeologists and their work with EYA to ensure the preservation of artifacts in the face ofcontinued development along the city block. As long as officials properly respect and preserve history, he said, he will support business and residential construction in Old Town.

EYA declined a request to comment regarding the intersection of historic preservation and development. Although the long-term plan for the preservation of these ships is unclear, Breen and Fesler said the history uncovered at Robinson Landing goes far beyond the timbers that are sitting in city warehouses.

“It’s remarkable enough to have a late 18th-, early 19th-century neighborhood preserved so well,” Breen said. “But under that you could actually see the infrastructure that early Alexandrians created in really creative ways.”

Fesler said archaeology is an essential component of discovering, recording and understanding history, particularly in a neighborhood as historic as Old Town.

“This happens to be a spot on the waterfront that is jam-packed with incredible historic findings,” Fesler said. “…If you think about Old Town as being an enormous checkerboard, and each little spot in it as a square, we’re just trying to fill in the pieces of the checkerboard little by little to create a whole tapestry of history.”

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 Letter to the Editor: Will a new mayor improve pedestrian safety? Thu, 12 Jul 2018 19:07:32 +0000
To the editor: Alexandria’s election season saw a lot of political posturing on what’s best for our city and while some plans, initiatives and proposals may be open to debate, we can all agree that pedestrian safety can be universally accepted as necessary. The city currently has two initiatives tackling this issue: Complete the Streets, […]Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

To the editor:

Alexandria’s election season saw a lot of political posturing on what’s best for our city and while some plans, initiatives and proposals may be open to debate, we can all agree that pedestrian safety can be universally accepted as necessary.

The city currently has two initiatives tackling this issue: Complete the Streets, which aims to complete sidewalks and address any roadway improvements that affect resident safety; and Zero Vision, which is an action plan aimed at eliminating all traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2028. However, despite calls for help, the small community of Strawberry Hill continues to suffer from incomplete sidewalks and speeding “Waze” followers down a street with the neighborhood’s only stop light.

After three years and a neighborhood of highly engaged Alexandria citizens, a 60-foot missing portion of a sidewalk leading to the community’s bus stop was finally installed. But progress stopped there. Despite dozens of accidents at the intersection of Duke and North Early Street, several nearmiss pedestrian incidents around the Strawberry Hill community, and countless calls for help to Mayor Allison Silberberg, Vice Mayor Justin Wilson, the Alexandria Police Department and the city’s Complete the Streets team, sidewalks around the neighborhood remain sporadic and speeders continue to threaten this thriving area of Alexandria.

For those unfamiliar, the Strawberry Hill community represents the best we can hope for in Alexandria’s West End. Redevelopment of dated residential properties, new businesses and an infusion of young working families has the area looking more like one of the coveted Arlington communities. Hopefully our presumptive mayor, Wilson, is thinking strategically about how to nurture such change in Alexandria and how to attract and keep engaged residents committed to improving the community.

The Strawberry Hill community hosts several city-approved, in-home daycares, but parents in the community cannot walk safely to drop off their children. Without sidewalks, mothers and fathers are forced to push strollers on the street, avoiding parked cars and speeding traffic.

Come January, I hope Wilson, who enjoys the pedestrian haven of Del Ray, remembers that his community wasn’t always what it is today – it took collaboration between the city and its residents to provide a safe and enjoyable place to live and work. After all, Wilson’s own website states that he is “focused on making Alexandria a better place to live, work, and raise a family.” I hope so, because the residents of Strawberry Hill are counting on the new mayor to act.

-Maribeth Monge, Alexandria

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