Friday, May 28, 2010

JOIN IN: 4MR Clean-Up, Saturday, May 29th

Tomorrow (Saturday) is another chance to help clean-up Arlandria! Your help is needed. Please come out, as ever bit helps.  Please pass the word and tell any and all who would be interested.

Most of the work involves spreading mulch and pulling weeds, but the bigger projects will include performing prep work at the Four Mile Run Park expansion properties at 4125 Mount Vernon Avenue ( for a future Four Mile Run Park Farmers Market and Community Arts building).  The re-purposing of the old Duron building is slated for Planning Commission approval on Tuesday, June 1st, so community interest in making it happen is vital.

WHO: Anyone willing and able from Arlandria and beyond!

WHAT: We’ll break into teams and tackle a series of small to medium projects – major projects as mentioned above, plus mulching flower-beds and around trees, weeding, hedge trimming, litter pick-up, etc.

WHEN: Saturday May 29th, from 10AM – 12PM

WHY: Meet your neighbors, instill pride of ownership in the area, and make Arlandria a more beautiful and appealing place to live, visit, and do business.

HOW: We’ll need people to bring some tools – shovels, hard rakes, gardening tools (spades, etc.) hedge trimmers (cordless preferred), wheelbarrows, and an extra pick-up truck for mulch hauling would be a bonus!

Contact Nick Partee or show up at the site to volunteer: 
Phone: 571-239-6793 E-Mail:
Please let us know if you can provide any tools or an extra pick-up truck!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

“A new day for Arlandria”

Authored by Melissa Garcia

The panel on the Birchmere stage.
Arlandria Action Plan organizers Maya Contreras and Brandi Collins partnered with the Alexandria Economic Development Partners (AEDP) to host the Arlandria Developers Forum at the Birchmere. The group gathered on Monday May 17th to discuss challenges and opportunities to redevelopment in Arlandria. (Video of the forum is available on the City of Alexandria website here).

A ‘been there, done that’ skepticism gave way to enthusiasm as the panel of developers -- experts involved in well regarded projects throughout the DC metro area -- discussed ways to synergize community involvement and City commitment to leverage what they consistently referred to as a vibrant, affordable area.

Longtime business owner Gary Oelze of the Birchmere, who hosted the event, challenged the group to execute change in the area. “I’ve been here for a long time.  I started the Birchmere 44 years and brought it Arlandria rather than Shirlington or Clarendon. I've seen 4 or 5 of these planning committees before. We would LOVE to see something happen and to be a part of it."

Val Hawkins, President of AEDP jump-started the meeting with his response, “It’s a new day for Arlandria.”

The developers shared their vision of Arlandria reaching its potential. Developer Jair Lynch, from Jair Lynch Development Partners felt the close proximity of the Birchmere and Four Mile Run Park could spawn an artist community and would be conducive for free concerts. “It is good to find a neighborhood right on the edge, trying to define itself.” Cameron Pratt of Fouglar-Pratt thought restaurants featuring live musicians would do well in the neighborhood. “This (the Birchmere) is one of the top music venues in the nation.”

The lack of transportation infrastructure was seen as a major hindrance by both the panel and the audience. Connie Ring, representing the recently redeveloped Alexandria Crossing said, “The key is to find solutions to the transportation issue. The best environment for public housing residents is to be in a vibrant community with access to transit.” Pratt felt obstacles to accessibility imposed limitations on development “Transportation and infrastructure keep it from being a Shirlington or Clarendon. “ Lynch concurred. “If we had a cut through, that would be a game-changer.”

Mayor Bill Euille, felt the group should provide for sustained diversity as property owners, the city, and developers come up with something that can be implemented. “We want something positive to happen – it’s been a long time in the making.”

Predictably, representatives from Tenants and Workers United balked at the prospect of development, asserting low income residents would be priced out of the neighborhood.

Census bureau statistics contradict that fear: turnover rates in Arlandria are the highest in the city (35% of Arlandrians move year). And with only 10% of the Arlandria population remaining for 5 or more years, more than 90% of the current renters will no longer live here by the time redevelopment occurs. Additionally, there is a long standing commitment to support the many, various subsidized housing projects throughout Arlandria and to create new affordable units in any new development. And since Arlandria residents have the longest commute time in the City, bringing businesses and jobs to the community could go a long way toward stabilizing the neighborhood. The collective impression of the panel was positive - that the small improvements and development would improve the livability of the neighborhood while maintaining the diversity that gives Arlandria its character.

The group was left with a thought-provoking question from the panel: “What do YOU want Arlandria to be?”

“What we learned and discussed were existing hindrances to redevelopment, existing opportunities and assets, and strategies that can strengthen the ‘sense of place’ in Arlandria and encourage appropriate redevelopment. Our panelists re-affirmed that selecting and implementing these strategies will require the collaboration and partnership of the community, property owners, developers, and the City,” said Contreras.

Vision from the Arlandria Plan, 2003
The organizers and expert panelists were all clear that without community involvement, Arlandria revitalization could continue to stall. If you are interested in seeing the vision of ‘”A new day for Arlandria” become a reality, please start by watching the video, taking this survey, and passing it on to your friends and neighbors. Please share your comments and ideas here in the comments section of the Arlandrian. If you would like to be involved in executing some grass-roots initiatives locally or representing Arlandria at upcoming council meetings, contact Melissa, Kevin or Nick here on the Arlandrian blog or at:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Coming Soon: 4 Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market

The gears are turning.  Volunteers submitted the Administrative Special Use Permit (ASUP) last week.  They've established policies and are currently gathering potential vendors and working out details of how the market will be run.  It seems like the time to announce the newest Alexandria Farmers Market.  Pending approval, which seems imminent based on community and City staff feedback so far, the 4 Mile Run Farmers and Artisans Market should be a reality within a month or so.

The Market will be open from 8am - 1pm on Sundays starting early this summer.  Pending completion of all preparations, the first market day should be June 20th.  If you'd like to help prep the site this Saturday, May 29th, a group of volunteers will meet at the old Duron Building (and eventual Community building) to tidy up the site from 10am to noon (meet at 4109 Mt. Vernon Ave). We need all the help we can get to weed, prune trees and bushes, and generally clean up the space in preparation for the Market.

With the following Market mission statement settled upon, hopefully the market will be a solidifying element within the community:  "The Market will bring fresh, nutritious food to people of all income levels, provide an opportunity for local artisans and producers of goods to bring their wares to market, strive to reflect the diversity of the community, and improve the quality of life for Arlandria residents and visitors."  The Market will strive to operate to in accordance with its stated mission.

First year Market goals include getting the market running by end of June with at least 5 vendors, improving and maintaining the expanded 4MR park site, and supporting EBT or WIC payment by end of the first market year.  This could be a very exciting year for building community within Arlandria.

If you know a local artisan or a farmer in the region, are an artisan or farmer looking for a place to sell your wares, or are an area resident that wants to get involved with the Farmers and Artisans Market, please contact Travis Hester ( or Nick Partee (  To help clean-up 4MR Park where the market will be located, just show up this Saturday at 10am at 4109 Mt Vernon Ave!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The 411 on Arlandria Redevelopment Potential

Vision from 2003 Arlandria Small Area Plan
Next Monday, May 17th, Alexandria is holding a developers forum to discuss possibilities for the future of Arlandria barriers to redevelopment.  It's open to the public, and if you have any interest in the future of the business district in our community, this forum is for you.  Please come out as this has been a long time coming.  It's very important to show public interest.  Here's the City's press release:

The City of Alexandria Planning & Zoning is pleased to announce the Arlandria Developer Forum on Monday, May 17th, 2010, at the Birchmere (3701 Mt Vernon Ave), planned in coordination with Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP). The goal of the forum is to promote discussion about Arlandria's present and its future vision.

Doors will open at 6:30.  We will begin promptly at 7PM and will wrap the discussion up by 9PM.

We have the following  confirmed as panelists:
  • Steve Moore, Washington Economic Development Partnership
  • Cameron Pratt, Foulger-Pratt
  • Jair Lynch, Jair Lynch Development Partners
  • Stewart Bartley, Y-12 Investments
  • Danny Abramson, Abramson Properties

This forum is open to the public, so please pass along the information to anyone who may be interested.

Questions? Contact Brandi Collins (; 703.746.3854) or Maya Contreras (; 703.746.3816)

Please visit the website for more information ( and sign up for the City's E-news service to receive future meeting notices.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Alexandria Adopts Budget, Including "Restoration of two Community-Oriented Police positions"

Many thanks to all those that wrote the City and spoke before City Council to fight for continued funding of all COP positions.  There is no word on which neighborhood will lose one COP officer, but the good news is 2 of 3 potentially affected neighborhoods will maintain their full compliment of community oriented police.

Full City Press Release is below:
Alexandria City Council Adopts Fiscal Year 2011 Budget
For Immediate Release: May 3, 2010
News Highlights
  • Property tax rate increased 7.5 cents; rate set at 97.8 cents per $100 of assessed value
  • Alexandria City Public Schools transfer increased $3.3 million, a 2.0% increase
  • Transit subsidy for WMATA increased by $1.6 million, a 26% increase from last year’s General Fund amount
  • General Fund Operating Budget is $531.6 million, an increase of 0.3% from Fiscal Year 2010
  • Public safety, transit cuts restored
More Information
Seeking to maintain core City services, education, and Metro funding despite challenging economic conditions, the Alexandria City Council voted 5-2 to adopt a $531.6 million General Fund Operating Budget for the fiscal year (FY) beginning July 1, 2010. The calendar year 2010 real estate tax rate of 90.3 cents was increased by 7.5 cents to 97.8 cents per $100 of assessed value. This rate includes 0.5 cents dedicated to stormwater management projects instead of a separate stormwater utility fee. The average homeowner’s taxes will increase by $125, or 2.9%. The City’s real property tax rate remains one of the lowest in Northern Virginia.
“We asked our residents to weigh in on the challenges our City faces, and they didn’t let us down,” said Mayor William D. Euille. “They let us know on the Web, during public hearings, via e-mail and telephone, and on the street. We listened to them, and the budget we approved tonight reflects their input, including their concerns about public safety and transportation. This budget process affirmed that City government and residents can come together in tough times to make a difference, and that we must continue to work together to overcome the challenges ahead.”
Items approved by City Council include:
  • Addition of two new, peak-time medic units and five medical staff in the Alexandria Fire Department
  • Restoration of two Community-Oriented Police positions
  • Reinstatement of $100,000 to the Alexandria Transit Company (DASH) to retain service on the AT4 route
City employees will also receive a merit step increase in FY 2011, at a cost of $3.4 million. The Council added an additional step at the end of the pay scale, so that all employees would be eligible to receive a merit increase next year. The merit increase, the first since FY 2009, will help offset increases to health insurance premiums and help retain a highly skilled workforce. There have been no market-rate adjustments for employees since 2008.
The largest increase in the FY 2011 budget is dedicated to the Alexandria City Public Schools. The transfer of funds to the Schools will increase $3.3 million, a 2.0% increase over the FY 2010 budget.
New fees and service cost increases include:
  • Allocation of  0.5 cents of the property tax increase to pay for stormwater sewer infrastructure, providing $2.3 million for FY 2011 projects
  • A parking meter rate increase to $1.75 per hour, which generates $1.15 million
  • A $5 increase for residents who receive City trash and recycling collection services (fees will be used to purchase larger recycling bins to increase recycling rates and improve convenience and service)
The taxpayers’ cost to fund the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) continues to increase annually. The FY 2011 budget includes a potential $1.6 million increase to the transit agency, which is 26% more than in FY 2010.
“Our City continues to face challenging times, and will continue to do so for the next few years,” said City Manager James K. Hartmann. “This year’s budget process and the budget that was approved tonight show the delicate balance between cutting costs, maintaining the City’s basic operational needs, and compensating the excellent workforce that makes it possible.”
For more information, contact Tony Castrilli, Director of Communications, Office of Communications, at 703.888.7166 or