City Achieves Significant Financial Accomplishments
On September 7, the City completed refinancing of $113 million of outstanding City general obligation bonds to lower interest rates. The new bonds were rated AAA/Aaa by Standard & Poor's and Moody's Investors Service and were sold at a very low overall 1.935 percent true interest cost -- one of the lowest rates ever achieved by the City. The transaction consisted of $68.5 million of outstanding tax exempt debt from four separate issuances since 2008 and $44.5 million of Build America Bonds from 2009. The refinancing will save City taxpayers approximately $10.6 million over the life of the bonds, including $1.5 million in both fiscal years 2019 and 2020. This accomplishment caps a season of major financial achievements. In July, Alexandria's top bond ratings of 'AAA' and 'Aaa' were reaffirmed. The ratings occurred in advance of the City's planned sale of $94.9 million in tax-exempt bonds, which will be used for schools, parks, public buildings, Metro, and other transportation improvements and infrastructure. The bonds, which will be repaid over 20 years, sold at a true interest cost of 2.5 percent to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. "True interest cost" represents the total cost of the debt, and includes interest payments, fees, and other components. At the same time, the City also sold $4.4 million of taxable general obligation bonds to Wells Fargo Bank (NA), at a true interest cost of 3.08 percent. The taxable bonds will be used for affordable housing.
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Alexandria Awarded More than $34 Million for Transportation Projects
The Commonwealth Transportation Board, which oversees Virginia's transportation projects and initiatives for the Commonwealth of Virginia, has awarded more than $34 million to the City of Alexandria for five transportation projects. The funding, most of which will be made available in 2022, will be used to expand transit access and bicycle/pedestrian mobility in Alexandria's West End, support bus service improvements, resurface major City arteries, and implement technologies that will reduce traffic congestion.
City Adds "Smart911" Service to Aid Emergency Response
Alexandria has joined the nationwide "Smart911" service, which lets residents, businesses and visitors provide information to 9-1-1 dispatchers in advance of emergencies.
The free new service allows users to create online safety profiles with home, workplace and mobile phone numbers, along with additional information that would be valuable to dispatchers and first responders during an emergency. This information can include home or work addresses, details about medical conditions, hazardous materials on the property, pets, and emergency contacts. Users are prompted to update their safety profiles every six months to ensure their information remains accurate. (Note that even with a safety profile, it is still important that 9-1-1 callers, particularly those with mobile phones, provide their current locations to dispatchers at the start of each call).
Safety profiles are kept confidential and secure, and are only available to trained dispatchers in participating 9-1-1 centers across the country. This allows dispatchers to access profile information for traveling mobile phone users, and makes it easy for landline customers to update profiles with new numbers after moving. Smart911 is currently available in more than 1,500 communities in the U.S., across 40 states.
For more information, and to create a Smart911 safety profile, visit www.alexandriava.gov/911. For assistance, please call 703.746.HELP(4357).
City Ceremonies Remember 9/11, Welcome New Citizens
With the solemn sound of bagpipes and the ringing of a bell, the City paused to mark the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The remembrance ceremony, hosted by the Alexandria Fire Department, Alexandria Police Department, and the Sheriff's Office, honored those who died in the attacks and paid tribute to first responders.
On the following day, the City welcomed more than 30 new American citizens as they took the Oath of Allegiance at Alexandria's annual Citizenship Day Ceremony. The event, which has been held in Alexandria since 2003, also recognizes "Constitution Day and Citizenship Day," which commemorates the adoption of the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787.
Candidates for citizenship take the Oath of Allegiance during the Citizenship Day Naturalization ceremony on September 12.
Fall 2017 Native Plant Sale is Here
The Department of Recreation, Parks, and Cultural Activities is offering a native plant sale to help grow Alexandria's tree canopy. Beautify your yard, help the environment, and create habitat by planting high quality and ecologically valuable native tree and shrub species in your yard! The following plants are available for purchase through Sunday, October 15:
Orders can be placed online or in person at the Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center, 5750 Sanger Ave. Plants will be available for pickup on Saturday, October 21 between 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the Jerome "Buddie" Ford Nature Center.
ACPS Receives VDOT Safe Routes to School Grant
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has announced that the Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) will be the recipient of a VDOT Safe Routes to School (SRTS) non-infrastructure grant for the 2017-2018 school year. The SRTS program, in Virginia since 2007, helps schools and communities across the state make walking and biking to school a safe, convenient, and natural activity.
The $67,250 grant will fund a part-time SRTS Coordinator position and Walking and Biking Education, Encouragement, Enforcement and Evaluation (4E) initiatives at seven schools (Francis C. Hammond Middle School, Charles Barrett Elementary School, Douglas MacArthur Elementary School, James K. Polk Elementary School, Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy, Matthew Maury Elementary School, and Samuel Tucker Elementary School) in 2017-2018. A portion of this grant will also support bicycling safety and skills education at 11 of 13 ACPS elementary schools during 2017-2018.
City Launches Interactive Tools for Residents
The City has created two new interactive tools to assist residents with information on development projects and community associations.
The new Interactive Master Plan Map will provide users with comprehensive information on developments in the City. While the most current Small Area Plan documents and associated Master Plan Amendments are still listed on the Alexandria Master Plan and Citywide Chapters webpage, the Interactive Master Plan Map serves as a quick reference tool. When you click on a particular area of the map, a web box will appear that includes the plan name, approval date, ordinance number, as well as links to the most current plan document and land use map for that area. Residents also have the ability to enter their street addresses to determine which small area plan applies to them.
The second tool, the Community Association Viewer, provides residents with locations and contact information for civic, business, community, neighborhood and homeowner associations, condos and housing cooperatives.
Northern Virginia Conservation Trust Acquires Wetland Site in Alexandria
Thanks to the nonprofit, Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NCVT), a rare wetland property in Alexandria will be preserved. In February, NVCT acquired a 1.97-acre wetland located where Cameron Run and Little Hunting Creek meet before flowing into the Potomac River. The site, an intact, rare Tidal Freshwater Marsh, is also a migrating bird habitat, listed as an eBird "Hotspot" with more than 100 different bird species sighted in or near the area. The site includes the two only known, surviving Pumpkin Ash trees remaining in the city. The NVCT acquisition, made through a fee simple donation, will protect the wetland, which is located in a highly developed area between major freeways and an apartment building currently under construction.
Alexandria Library Receives Two National Association of Government Communicators Awards
Alexandria Library received two individual 'Awards of Excellence' at the National Association of Government Communicators (NAGC) 2017 Blue Pencil and Gold Screen Awards this summer in St. Louis, Mo. The first award, for Logo/Theme Art, was for the Alexandria Library's logo design, which enhanced its visibility with a vibrant brand mark. The second award, for a Special Event, was for the Library's Passport Challenge. The award recognized the Library's effectiveness in engaging residents while promoting services, events and the new logo.
(From L to R, with name tags) Alexandria Library employees Genelle Schuler, Confidence Akiti, Allison Carmola, Anton Murray, Theresa Reiss, Linda Wesson, and Barbara Manley, along with one of the NAGC program coordinators.
Visit Alexandria Highlights Fall Festival Season
As fall leaves explode into dazzling colors, festivals celebrating art, wine and history abound during Alexandria, Virginia's most colorful season. Highlights include Del Ray's 22nd Annual Art on the Avenue on October 7 and Fall Harvest Family Days at Mount Vernon, featuring wagon rides, 18th-century dancing demonstrations and more on October 21 and 22. New this year, the Virginia Wine Festival comes to the Old Town Alexandria waterfront for its 42nd event on October 14 and 15. Find more fall events at www.VisitAlexandriaVA.com/fall.
Rebuilding Immigrant Careers
In August, the City's Workforce Development Center partnered with other community groups to host the fourth annual Skilled Immigrant Conference at Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria.
The community partners—which also included local resettlement agencies, the Alexandria/Arlington Regional Workforce Council and Fairfax County SkillSource Center—are working together to improve resources and opportunities for the region's growing immigrant population. Many who attended are highly skilled but face significant hurdles finding work in their fields. This is often due to challenges related to certification and licensing procedures for education and professional experience earned abroad, which may leave them unemployed or significantly underemployed.
About 300 people participated in the conference, which discussed the importance of soft skills, employment and training opportunities for immigrants, and the new American economy.
"Eagle" Sails into Alexandria
Alexandria welcomes the U.S. Coast Guard Barque, Eagle, upon its arrival on September 4. Dubbed "America's Tall Ship," Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the U.S. flag and the only active commissioned sailing vessel in American military service. As a training vessel and goodwill ambassador, Eagle has offered generations of Coast Guard Academy cadets and officer candidates a unique experience at sea.
September City Council Meeting Highlights
City Council Approves New Names for Park Entrance, Recreation Center
On September 16, City Council approved recommendations from the City Naming Committee to 1) name the Edison Street entrance of Four Mile Run Park to honor Betty King; and 2) rename the Cora Kelly Recreation Center to honor Leonard "Chick" Armstrong.
City Council approved a proposal naming the Edison Street entrance of Four Mile Run Park to honor Betty King, a longtime City resident and community activist who passed away in June 2016. King lived Hume Springs from 1985 to 2016, and was a member and past officer of the Hume Springs Citizens Association. She served the City as a member of the Arlandria Small Area Planning Group and the Four Mile Run Restoration Joint Task Force, and played an instrumental role in the partnership between residents and Alexandria Police Department to eject drug dealers from the Hume Springs neighborhood in the 1990s.
Leonard "Chick" Armstrong was a youth football and basketball coach with the City's Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities for more than 35 years. He also mentored and counseled the city's youth, and for eight years, was the Commissioner of the Johnson‐Siebert Summer Adult Basketball League, which served hundreds of young adults. Armstrong's commitment to building youth through athletics earned him the 2005 Mid‐Atlantic Recreation & Parks' Sports Alliance's Sportsmanship Award.
Police Department K9s Receive Body Armor
Alexandria Police Department K9s Odin and Zeus received a ballistic and stab-protective vest, thanks to a charitable donation from non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc.
An Urban Meadow is Born
The City's Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities has created a five-acre native managed meadow at the Telegraph Road and Duke Street interchange. The meadow, many years in the making, was created by ending mowing operations in the area and allowing the native seedbank and natural succession to restore the site to a diverse native grassland. The City has managed this site by eradicating non-native, invasive plants and will control the growth of some trees to maintain an open, sunny habitat for native grasses, wildflowers, and other herbaceous plants. The meadow is a refuge for wildlife and one of the Alexandria's designated "Native Plant Conservation Zones."
The City has managed several native meadow sites that originated the same way, an example of a way cities can beautify the environment while reducing the costs of mowing and maintenance.
The largely treeless, non-diverse five-acre complex of formerly mowed turf at the Telegraph Road and Duke Street interchange as it appeared in March 2002. Photo by R.H. Simmons.
The same 5-acre complex of native meadows at the Telegraph Road and Duke Street interchange in June 2016. Photo by R.H. Simmons.
Be Alert: Sheriff's Office Reports Phone Scam
Several area residents have reported receiving phone calls from someone falsely claiming to be a deputy sheriff from the Alexandria Sheriff's Office or from another local law enforcement agency. In this scam, the caller claims the intended victim failed to report for jury duty and must immediately pay a fine or they will be arrested. The caller will try to get personal information, credit card information and/or bank account details.
The Alexandria Sheriff's Office does not make such calls and will never request payment over the phone. The Alexandria Courts will never call someone to notify them of jury duty or of a failure to appear for service, as all their initial correspondence is done via first class mail.
If you receive such a call, hang up. Do not provide the caller with any information and do not answer any questions, even if they threaten you with arrest.
Should you have any concerns, call the Alexandria Sheriff's Office at 703.746.4114 to verify if a deputy made such a call. If you are a victim of this scam and have been defrauded of money, please report it to the Alexandria Police Department by calling 703.746.4444.
For more events, visit alexandriava.gov/Calendar .