Monday, October 26, 2009
Del Ray Central is located at 3051 and 3061 Mount Vernon Ave. The meeting takes place on November 4th, 2009 at 6:00 at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center (map). We added it to the blog calendar, as well.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Community input is important to the City's current Strategic Plan review and will help shape implementation moving forward. Vice Mayor Kerry Donley and Council Member Paul Smedberg will lead the discussion on this strategic goal: There is Quality Development and Redevelopment, Support for Local Businesses, and a Strong, Diverse, and Growing Local Economy. Individuals who wish to comment at the public forum are asked to sign up in advance and limit their comments to three minutes. Sign up in advance by calling Brandi Collins, Urban Planner, at 703-746-3854, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Participants should address the following questions:
1. What should the City's top three development and economic development priorities be?Residents can also submit their comments online at www.alexandriava.gov/StrategicPlanning. For more information, please call Brandi Collins, Urban Planner, at 703-746-3854, or email email@example.com or visit www.alexandriava.gov/StrategicPlanning.
2. How should the City measure success as we work on those priorities?
3. What constraints should be placed on development and economic development?
celebrate the importance of afterschool programs on Thursday October 22nd
at our Lights On Afterschool event!
In communities today, 14.3 million children take care of themselves after
the school day ends. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working
families and inspire learning. At Community Lodgings, nearly 80 homeless
and low-income children attend our afterschool program daily – especially
important in a community which ranks first in sexual assaults, homicides
and unemployment rate in all of Alexandria. Join us, along with 7,500+
afterschool programs nationwide, in celebrating our afterschool programs.
Community Lodgings' Lights On Afterschool event will begin at 4:00pm and
will be held at our Family Learning Center at 607 Notabene Drive. We will
be joined by community leaders such as Mayor Bill Euille as well as
principals and representatives from the City so that they can share their
experiences working with Community Lodgings' youth afterschool program.
Please RSVP by Tuesday, October 20th if you are interested in attending. If
you have additional questions about the event, feel free to call us at
703-549-4407 or respond to this email.
Director of Development
Featured in the Catalogue for Philanthropy: "One of the best small
charities in the Greater Washington region."
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Tuesday, October 20
6:00 pm to 6:30 pm (open house)
6:30 pm to 9:30 pm (meeting)
Charles Houston Recreation Center
901 Wythe Street
Why You Should Be There:
Over the last year, the Potomac Yard Planning Advisory Group and community members have been contributing to creating a vision for the future redevelopment of the Potomac Yard retail center. The vision includes a future Potomac Yard that is built around transit, including a new Metrorail Station, incorporates a vibrant mix of uses and amenities, provides an urban street grid, and is organized around vital open spaces. At the October meeting, attendees will:
View a three-dimensional model and other media that present the current plan proposed to promote the long-term vision for the Potomac Yard retail center.
Meet PYPAG members and City staff, and provide comments and ask questions on the proposed plan.
Participate in focused briefings and discussions on: site design and sustainability, transportation, and open space, civic uses, and housing.
Comments received at the community workshop will inform the final drafting of the Potomac Yard Master Plan, to be released to the public in early December 2009, in anticipation of being heard by the Planning Commission and City Council on the February 2010 dockets.
Mark Your Calendar for Upcoming Meetings about the Potomac Yard Plan:
Lynhaven Citizens Association Meeting -- Focus on Transportation Issues -- Monday, November 2, 7:00 pm, Cora Kelly Rec Center, 25 W. Reed Ave (Potomac Yard discussion 7:45pm to 8:15pm) (three-dimensional model available for viewing)
Planning Commission Worksession--Thursday, November 5, 6:30 pm, City Hall, 301 King Street, City Council Workroom
Potomac Yard Planning Advisory Group Meeting--Tuesday, November 17, 7:00 pm, City Hall, 301 King Street, Room 1101
City Council Worksession--Tuesday, November 24, 5:30 pm, City Hall, 301 King Street, Room 1101
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The W&OD railroad used to make up the southern border of what we now call Arlandria and if you look closely you can still find it's remnants such as this abutment where a rail bridge once crossed Russell Road near West Glebe:
View Larger Map
What would it take? Here's part of the discussion.
See: Could Virginia reactivate the W&OD? at Greater Greater Washington
This new mixed use building by the folks at Maginniss + del Ninno in the Mount Vernon Avenue area of Alexandria, looks like it is going to fit right into the neighborhood. The design will be LEED Gold rated with the exterior utilizing phenolic panels having recycled content, using "rainscreen" technology.
In addition to reclaiming a former automobile service station site, the building will feature low impact urban site development, day lighting, and a "farmable" vegetated roof. It is scheduled for completion in the Winter of 2010. We hope they keep the colors in the final build.
[Rendering: MDN Architects]
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Existing Intersection Issues
First, here's a little background from the 2008 Pedestrian and Bike Mobility Plan to get an idea of why this intersection is at issue. There are traffic and aesthetic issues, as well, but let me outline some of the safety concerns.
The first graphic, below, shows the intersections in question had medium crash density compared to similar sites, city-wide. The only high crash density in the city was just North between Russell Rd and Four Mile Run on Mt. Vernon Ave. I suppose work to resolve those issues will fall to a future effort.
This second chart identifies these intersections as providing fairly poor quality crossing conditions. This supports the need to make improvements at the two sites.
Finally, this third chart demonstrates the high volume of potential pedestrian activity. The relatively poor crossing conditions coupled with a high potential pedestrian activity further support the need to increase the quality of these intersections for pedestrians to avoid future pedestrian-related accidents at this site. Additionally, any effort made to give Arlandria more of a sense of place is a step in the right direction.
The Mt. Vernon/W Glebe Alternatives
Now that we have a little background, let's get to the good stuff. While four alternatives were presented for the W Glebe/Mt. Vernon intersection, only one option was presented in depth. Here is the full presentation.
The first three alternatives presented would require significant redevelopment to become possible, as they required the city to acquire additional right of way to carry out. The three throw-aways were 1) a roundabout with an offset approach, 2) a realignment to square-up the intersection, and 3) offsetting Mt. Vernon Ave (see following 3 images from the presentation for clarity). The roundabout option seemed overly complex compared to the one I mocked up in an earlier blog entry, though admittedly, my mocked up design was only loosely based on what roundabout standards I could find in various documents from VDOT and Maryland's DOT. Even my version requires the city to acquire right of way from 2 intersection-adjacent property owners.
The fourth option is one that could be done within the existing right-of-way. Right-turn slip-lanes are created for both right turns off of Mt. Vernon Ave. Generally that change is considered a setback for pedestrians, but they plan to add additional traffic calming features designed to make the slip-lane feel like a pedestrian oriented space. Finally, the design includes shortening crossing distances by adding a pedestrian island at the northwest and southeast corners that narrow the intersection. The pedestrian island might include certain "gateway" features to make the intersection feel more like an entrance to Arlandria, but what that means remains to be seen.
Primary citizen concerns with this intersection alignment were that it is still not pedestrian-oriented enough. Some were concerned about slip-lanes, though it seemed the extra pedestrian features of the slip-lanes allayed their fears.
One suggestion was to make the right turn lane on eastbound W Glebe a straight and right-turn lane and to make the other lane a signaled left-turn lane. Staff explained that approximately the same portion of traffic goes right as goes both straight and left combined. Citizens were surprisingly less concerned with the traffic flow issues in favor of making the intersection more pedestrian oriented. As a worst case scenario, if the City makes the citizen recommended change and it does not work well, the City could cheaply put the lane alignment and signals back as they are shown in the diagram above.
Reed and Mt Vernon Intersection Improvements
Only a single option was presented for Reed/Mt. Vernon. It added bulb-outs to narrow crossing distance and an additional cross-walk, primaritly to get to and from the bus stops. Citizens thought adding a cross-walk both North and South of the intersection would make more sense. At the very least, the cross-walk should be on the north side instead of the south side, where the road will become narrowest.
Another big question was about a future plan to extend Reed into the Safeway/Datatel site and connect it to W Glebe Rd, as was suggested by the Arlandria Long Term Action Plan. People asked if all this work would be necessary if that plan goes through. City Staff said the current effort makes that effort more feasible in the future. It consolidates some driveways and makes the entrance to Wachovia better aligned with Reed. If the road were ever extended, it would likely pass through this same curb-cut.
Many were concerned about cost. The impression we've been given by the City is that the $500K in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funds set aside for "Revitalization of Arlandria" have to stretch over several projects. It looks like these intersection changes will take up somewhere in the $200K to $300K range (perhaps a little bit less) of that $500K. Sandra Marks said the project has not been approved yet and the soon to be formed Arlandria Implementation Advisory Group could have a say in prioritization of the project (more on formation of that group very soon). A delay for prioritization could impact the project start date. Attendees were mixed between getting something done ASAP and making sure this is where we want to spend much of the available CIP funding.
Other concerns were that if the engineering phase of the project were started today, actual construction would not begin until summer 2010. If we agree to this project, why does it have to take nearly a year to get started?
In all, it was a productive meeting, even if we felt we were not really given alternatives to work with. The city is, at least, trying to move forward with one major project in the area. The question still remains why this project was chosen over many others, but perhaps it was just a target of opportunity since changes can be made to the existing right-of-way.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
The City of Alexandria and Arlington County announced today the opening of The Four Mile Run Pedestrian-Cyclist Professional Bridge Competition and Call for Qualifications.
The bridge is planned to connect the trail near South Eads Street in Arlington to the trail near Commonwealth Avenue in Alexandria, as set forth in the Four Mile Run Restoration Master Plan. The Master Plan, adopted by Arlington County and the City of Alexandria in 2006, envisions the stream corridor as a location celebrating the diversity and vitality of the surrounding neighborhoods. One component of the Master Plan calls for connections between the two communities through a series of new pedestrian-cyclist bridges. This competition marks the beginning of the design process for the first of these bridges.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Here's the city's press release. A list of trees that should be available are following the press release.
Here's the list from a previous message that came out about the sale:
City of Alexandria Urban Forestry Steering Committee to Hold 5th Annual Fall Tree Sale Saturday, October 3
"Great Trees, Great Prices, and Great for Alexandria"
The City’s Alexandria’s Urban Forestry Steering Committee (UFSC) and the Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities will hold a City fall tree sale on Saturday, October 3, from 8 a.m. to 1 pm at Trinity United Methodist Church, 2911 Cameron Mills Rd. The goal of the sale is to promote the preservation of the Alexandria’s tree canopy by encouraging the planting of trees on private property throughout the City. Alexandria Tree Stewards and Master Gardeners will be on site to answer questions about tree selection, planting and care.
For additional information, call Jerry Dieruf, Arborist, at 703.746.5498 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance with the City’s Human Rights Code and the Americans with Disabilities Act. To request a reasonable accommodation or to request materials in an alternative format, call Jerry Dieruf, Arborist, at 703.746.5498, (TTY 703.838.4902) or e-mail email@example.com.
Trees Available at the Sale
At Arbor Day, North Ridge will sell a wide variety of trees, including the following (max growth heights indicated):
- Pin Oak (3 gallon, $18; 7 gallon $30) – Rapid growing, sturdy oak. Red/burnished brown leaves in the fall. 80 feet.
- Red Maples (3 gallon, $28) – Red buds in the spring, red leaves in the fall. 75-80 feet.
- Honey Locust (5 gallon, $30) – Pinnate leaves, white flower clusters in May. 75 feet.
- Green Giant Arborvitae (3 gallon, $18) – A good upright evergreen screening shrub. Grows 5 -6 feet wide and 50 feet tall.
- Pink Multi Stem Crape Myrtles (3 gallon, $25) - Smooth, grey-brown bark; clusters of crinkly pink flowers. Good fall color. 15 feet.
- Red Bud (7 gallon, $35) - Red/purple blossoms in early spring. Does well in shade. 25 feet.
- Forest Pansy Red Bud (Red Leaf) (7 gallon, $35).
- Kwanzan Cherry (7 gallon, $35). 15 feet.
- Yoshino Cherry (7 gallon, $35). 15 feet
These trees must be pre-ordered in advance of the sale and must be picked up between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on October 3, unless otherwise arranged, or they will be made available for general purchase. To place an order, please call or mail Jerry Dieruf in the office of the City Arborist. Jerry’s phone number is 703-838-4999; his e-mail is Jerry.Dieruf@alexandriava.gov.
- Red Maple (10 gallon, $40)
- Red Oak (5 gallon) – A North Ridge classic. Scarlet leaves in the fall. 75-80 feet.
- Willow Oak (5 gallon) – The stately tree that lines the roads in Fairlington. 80-100 feet.
- Green Giant Arborvitae (15 gallon, $60)
- River Birch (10 gallon, $40) – Only native birch at low elevation in southern U.S. 75-80 feet.
- Hawthorne (10 gallon, $40) – Bright red flowers with red centers. Likes sun. 18-25 feet.
- Hackberry (10 gallon, $40) – Ovate leaves, dark-red to purple fruit. 30-40 feet.
Below, we discuss why alternative D2 should not be thrown out. You can also read our previous post on the subject as a primer.
The recent elimination of alternative D2 by the PY Metro Feasibility Workgroup was short-sighted. Several readers of our previous post on this subject wrote letters to the Mayor and City Council supporting points the post made.
I had an opportunity to read several responses back and they seem to all seem to be the same response from Vice Mayor Kerry Donley. Here is Donley's response, which I believe does not provide a clear reason for the elimination of option D2 (similar to the picture above and to the right).
Thank you for your recent note about the Metrorail station at Potomac Yard. I believe that a Metrorail station at Potomac Yards is essential to the proper development of this site together with our goal of getting more people, residents and commuters alike, to use mass transportation.I do agree with some of Vice Mayor Donley's points in his response to many that e-mailed their concerns about the elimination of alternatives C & D. For example, a Metro station at Potomac Yards is essential to citywide goals. The station is especially important to achieve an urban, walkable, and transit centric Potomac Yards. However, as stated at the Mayor's Institute on City Design, proximity to the Metro station has a significant impact on land and property values, and therefore profit for any developer. The Workgroup's own analysis shows a shorter payback horizon and a higher developer proffer with a station located at the center of Landbay F.
The committee examined many aspects of the candidate-build alternatives and we have opted to concentrate our efforts on the "A" alternative and the two "B" alternatives. There are three primary objectives which we used to arrive at these decisions. First, the capital costs associated with the possible station need to be realistic particularly since the station is planned to be financed through developer contributions and public bonds and then repaid through a special taxing district. Some of the other alternatives carried substantial up-front construction costs which made them too expensive to consider.
Second, some of the alternatives carried significant construction difficulties such as track realignment or long-term construction schedules which made them less realistic. Finally, the options moving forward accommodate more commercial development as opposed to residential development making them move viable as commuter alternatives, with residential areas being served via circulator bus systems.
The City still faces significant financial considerations for the surviving alternatives, particularly financing the construction costs and overcoming construction issues relating to the National Park Service and existing railroad right-of-way. We will be getting more information about these issues as well as more information from Metro regarding ridership information and the timeline for their procurement and construction processes.
Again, thanks for writing.
Kerry J. Donley
The below-ground alternative seems prohibitively expensive and was dropped back in May, but the estimate for the aerial station in alternative D2 might be within reach for a developer. The extra $60-80 million might be made up with the vast improvement on 1/4 mile walkshed. Many of the arguments for this improved walkshed have been made over and over again by those on the Workgroup as well as the panel from the Mayor's Institute, including Christopher Leinberger. Note from the following images how far alternative B3 falls from the nearest development.
Another key point to consider is the impact on traffic. The Vice Mayor points out, "the options moving forward accommodate more commercial development as opposed to residential development making them move viable as commuter alternatives, with residential areas being served via circulator bus systems." How does making the station further away from both residential and commercial properties help this goal.
Alternative D2 is much closer to the greatest density commercial and residential property of Landbay F. If the Metro station is within close walking distance of the greatest density portion of the PY redevelopment, as well as within walking distance of Arlington's PY redevelopment, a greater proportion of travelers to and from this location will utilize transit instead of automobiles. Has Alexandria even talked to developers on the other side of Four Mile Run that would stand to benefit greatly from alternative D2?
As for Vice Mayor Donley's assertion that some of the alternatives were docked because they will be especially disruptive to existing operations, the Workgroup chart (shown atop our last blog on this topic) actually shows options A and B2 as being the most disruptive to current Metrorail operations. All other options were listed as having equivalent impacts. If the City is concerned about the cost and time of studying too many alternatives, throw out alternatives A and B2. B3 and D2 seem to provide far and away the most bang for the buck with the lowest disruption to service.
The City should utilize its hard earned AAA debt rating and be willing back alternative D2, which truly achieves the type of urban, transit-centric community staff and City Council rightly promote. Municipalities across the nation study the forward thinking planning by Arlington when creating the Rosslyn-Balston corridor (30+% of Arlington's tax base on about 10% of its land, all due to good planning). Alexandria has an opportunity to do something that adheres to urban planning best practices, or something that misses the mark. Option D2 needs to at least remain in contention or people will look back in 30 years and say the City provided an infrastructure amenity, but only reaped a fraction of the potential benefits.