Saturday, January 06, 2018

A plan for Commonwealth Park

The story of "the little park that could" at the corner of Reed & Commonwealth Avenues continues to unfold. 

The 0.58 acre site had previously been a dormant substation. The City’s purchase of the property in 2009 required that Virginia Electric Power Company demolish and remove the substation and complete all necessary environmental remediation. In October 2011, neighborhood volunteers used donated plants and mulch to install two gardens, a walking path, shade trees and park benches. In 2016, the City completed the Neighborhood Parks Improvement Plan that included a concept for the park, building upon the volunteer efforts, with a plaza and game tables, a tricycle track and picnic area. 

Last September, Rebuilding Together Alexandria hired Landscape Architecture firm Rhodeside and Harwell to develop a design for the site, based on the Neighborhood Parks Improvement Plan. Rhodeside and Harwell, RPCA, and Rebuilding Together Alexandria held a community meeting on October 11, 2017 to present a draft concept for the park, as shown in this presentation. The project team will present the final site design at the Park and Recreation Commission meeting on January 18, 2018.

The former electrical substation before Stormaggedon.
When the City of Alexandria purchased "3550 Commonwealth Avenue" from Dominion Power, they had Open Space funding and a goal of expanding park space, but they didn't really have a plan for it. What happened next though was something really magical.

Neighborhood volunteers teamed with City staff to forge ahead even in the face of economic troubles and budget crises. For just $200 it started to resemble a park, using only cast-off garden plants donated by neighbors and mulch ground up from cut-down, unhealthy, storm-battered trees formerly used to screen the old substation. For regular readers of The Arlandrian this is not news. We documented the progress along the way with our stories: "Where Did THAT Garden Come From?", "New Park Uncovered At Spring for Alexandria"and "How does our garden grow?". The tale of a community coming together is something that we are really amazed by and, frankly, more than a little proud.

And that gamble by citizens, that investment out of pocket and in blood, sweat and tears, didn't go unrewarded. Last year, Dominion Power, already supporters of the Four Mile Run Farmers & Artisans Market through their Dominion Green outreach program, stepped up to assist at the Reed Avenue Park as well.

2011's work by Dominion Power crews.
The City also matched the Dominion dollar contribution with additional plantings. All in all, 4 new maples, 3 crepe myrtles, and 12 arborvitae have now made the community gardening project into a bona fide pocket park. 

Work by the Cora Kelly students and City staff continued this in the spirit of community pride that has built this park. In  June 2012, Students from the Cora Kelly School for Math Science & Technology spent a Wednesday morning fixing up the gardens planted over the past several years. Three new trees were added as well.


The park today with new plantings and work by Cora Kelly students
 The results were spectacular.

Still a work in progress, a story that is still unfolding, the Reed Avenue Park at 3550 Commonwealth Avenue is an incredible neighborhood accomplishment that continues to grow.

Thanks to diligent work by City staff and the help of Rebuilding Together Alexandria, the next step in the journey of this little park from substation to open space continues; a community effort on Commonwealth Avenue for the common good. 



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Take this Survey to Help Improve Safety along the Avenue

Take this Survey to Help Improve Safety along the Avenue

The City of Alexandria is implementing the Mount Vernon Complete Streets project to address recent traffic deaths and serious injuries along the Avenue, as well as safety and accessibility concerns raised by the community through the Arlandria Action Plan, Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan Update, and subsequent discussions with neighborhood residents and businesses.

Help identify key the safety problems and unsafe locations along Mount Vernon Avenue (from Braddock Road to Four Mile Run), as well as solutions to these problems. Please take the survey and be a part of this effort to make your neighborhood safer and more accessible for all modes!

The survey closes on November 28.

https://survey.alexandriava.gov/s3/MtVernonAveCompleteStreetsProjectSurvey


Project Background

Mount Vernon Avenue is the main street of the Arlandria and Del Ray neighborhoods, and is heavily used by pedestrians, bicyclists, transit vehicles, and automobiles. The City is implementing this project to address recent traffic deaths and serious injuries along the Avenue, as well as safety and accessibility concerns raised by the community through the Arlandria Action Plan, Pedestrian & Bicycle Master Plan Update, and subsequent discussions with neighborhood residents and businesses.

Project Considerations

  • Accessibility of sidewalks, crossings, curb ramps, and transit stops for pedestrians and people in wheelchairs
  • Safe and comfortable north-south connectivity for bicyclists
  • High utilization of parking along Mount Vernon Avenue and side streets
  • Business loading and deliveries
  • Volume and speed of traffic on both streets
  • Highly used transit corridor with Metrobus and DASH service
  • Limited sight-distances at intersections

Implementation

PHASE 1 - SHORT-TERM IMPROVEMENTS (FALL 2017)

The City of Alexandria will conduct a traffic study of intersections along the Mount Vernon Avenue corridor, between Braddock Road and Four Mile Run. The study will:
  • Identify quick, low-cost improvements that can be made to improve traffic and pedestrian signal timing, signage, and sight-distances.
  • Identify improvements that can made as part of future resurfacing and re-striping of Mount Vernon Avenue (Phase 3).
We want to hear from you! Please look at the Mount Vernon Avenue traffic count maps to see traffic and turning counts (Braddock Road to E. Oxford Avenue and E. Oxford Avenue to Four Mile Run) from Spring 2017, and take our survey to provide input on traffic safety challenges along Mount Vernon Avenue as well as possible solutions for the City to consider. The survey closes on November 28, 2017.

PHASE 2 - PEDESTRIAN IMPROVEMENTS TO TRANSIT STOPS (MID-2018 - EARLY 2019)

The City of Alexandria conducted a Pedestrian Improvements to Transit Stop Study  along the entire Mount Vernon Avenue corridor that provided recommendations to improve pedestrian access to transit.  More information can be found here: www.alexandriava.gov/93440. The goals of the study were to: 
  • Comply with federal mandate to upgrade all bus stops to current ADA compliant standards
  • Create a ADA transition plan for bus stops Del Ray and Arlandria
  • Minimize parking loss & construction costs
  • Consolidate or relocate bus stops to improve bus travel time and encourage walking and active transportation
The Department of Project Implementation is managing the design and construction of the study's recommendations. Improvements will include:
  • Consolidate bus stops to balance accessibility, pedestrian/driver safety and on-street parking.
  • Upgrade ramps and crosswalks to improve pedestrian safety along the corridor.
  • Ensure construction process minimally impacts residents, businesses, access to parking and planned events.
  • Construct bulbs similar to the existing bus bulbs at Mount Vernon Avenue and Kennedy Street (shown below)
                                                                                bus bulb2

PHASE 3 - REPAVING AND SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS (SUMMER 2019 OR SOONER)

The City of Alexandria is scheduled to resurface Mount Vernon Avenue corridor, between Braddock Road and Hume Avenue. In conjunction with resurfacing, recommendations from the traffic study (Phase 1) and Arlandria Action Plan (2002) will be implemented. Improvements may include, but are not limited, to the following:
  • Additional high visibility crosswalks
  • Shared lane markings
  • Bicycle wayfinding signage
  • Parking edgelines
  • Flexpost curb extensions at intersections

Project Contact

Please contact Ray Hayhurst, Acting Complete Streets Program Manager, at raymond.hayhurst@alexandriava.gov, if you have any questions or concerns about this project.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Potential new Arlandria & Potomac Yard CaBi dock locations

The City of Alexandria is considering new dock locations for Capital Bikeshare. See the full news release below and follow the link to see the whole plan in context and provide feedback.

Two of the proposed locations are near Arlandria. Two are near Potomac Yard.

These are:

East Glebe Road at Main Line Boulevard



East Reed Avenue & Potomac Avenue


West Glebe Road at Old Dominion Boulevard (Le Bosquet Park)


West Reed Avenue at Edison Street



Community Input Needed for Future Capital Bikeshare Station Expansion

Alexandria is expanding its Capital Bikeshare network and welcomes feedback regarding the proposed bikeshare station locations. Community input can be provided through an online form through June 1. The online form can be accessed at https://www.alexandriava.gov/95476.

Each proposed bikeshare station will be brought before the Traffic & Parking Board for approval. The Traffic & Parking Board public hearing will take place on Monday, June 26, 2017 in City Hall Council Chambers at 7:30 p.m. For this round of expansion, the City will add 10 additional bikeshare stations with installation to occur in Spring 2018.

Bike sharing is public transportation using bicycles, and cities around the world provide bike sharing systems as a transportation option for residents and visitors. The City of Alexandria's bike sharing program, in partnership with the District Department of Transportation, Arlington County, Fairfax County, and Montgomery County, is called Capital Bikeshare. With Capital Bikeshare, you can choose from nearly 400 stations in the region, and return a bike to any station near your destination. Motivate operates the system for Alexandria, Fairfax County, Montgomery County, Arlington County, and Washington, D.C. Alexandria joined the regional Capital Bikeshare network in September 2012 with eight stations and now is up to 31 stations serving Old Town, Parker-Gray, Carlyle, Del Ray, Arlandria, Rosemont, and Bradlee neighborhoods.

For more information about the bikeshare program, visit alexandriava.gov/Bikesharing, or contact CapitalBikeshare@alexandriava.gov.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Four Mile Run Recognized a Frontline Park

National organization picks Four Mile Run Park 
for its innovative practices in community engagement and volunteer coordination

Designation marks the honor has been awarded to a Virginia Park and only the third time to a park in the Washington Metropolitan Area, after the National Mall and Yards Park. 

In recognition of its innovative and effective approach to community engagement and volunteer coordination, Four Mile Run Park has been named a “Frontline Park,” a nationwide competition sponsored each year by City Parks Alliance.

“It is incredibly gratifying to see this recognition after years of hard work, dedication and real collaboration between citizens, Alexandria City staff, and neighboring jurisdictions and agencies,” says Alexandria Vice Mayor Justin Wilson. “Having watched citizens become engaged in the Four Mile Run Park and stream restoration over my time in public service, I can attest that these massive improvements to the park and its neighborhood’s quality of life would not have been possible without these partnerships.”

In the early 70s, flooding caused incredible damage to Four Mile Run Park and surrounding residential area. The Army Corps of Engineers' flood control project managed to mitigate future flooding threats, but promised improvements to the park never occurred. As a result, the park was in severe need of restoration and maintenance, some of which was addressed through volunteer efforts in the early 2000s, but public investment in the park was reduced as the region dealt with the fallout of the financial crisis.

In recent years, dedicated community leaders and volunteers in Arlandria have worked tirelessly to maintain, restore, and program Four Mile Run Park to prevent it from falling into disrepair. A group of architects came together to create a work plan for the site, highlighting priority areas and making recommendations on where funds should be allocated in the absence of city attention to the space. While a task force made up of citizens from both Alexandria and neighboring Arlington County galvanized and shepherded public investment for stream and wetland restoration resulting in award-winning habitat creation in the park, the community has stepped in to make it cleaner and safer for visitors who come from all over the region to fish, bike the trails, walk dogs, and participate in other recreational activities.

In 2016, the nonprofit Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation was incorporated to increase capacity for fundraising and community engagement. The step toward formalizing the ad hoc approach to implementing a vision for the park represents the culmination of years of volunteer work from the community, which has been remarkable on its own.

Each month City Parks Alliance names one “Frontline Park” as a standout example of urban park excellence, innovation and stewardship from across the country. The program identifies urban parks and programs that find innovative ways to meet the unique challenges facing cities today. The site was selected from a field of more than 30 entries across the country. As a Frontline Park, Four Mile Run Park will be featured on the City Parks Alliance website and in articles and blog posts by the organization.

The Frontline Parks program is made possible with generous support from DuMor, Inc. (www.dumor.com)

About City Parks Alliance

City Parks Alliance is the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks. It leads and serves a community of diverse organizations, championing high quality urban parks throughout the nation. CPA’s vision is that everyone in urban America will have access to parks and green spaces that are clean, safe and vibrant. www.cityparksalliance.org