FYI Alexandria - November 29, 2017

Page archived as of December 20, 2017

Welcome to FYI Alexandria!

In this issue, learn about how new signage helps residents and visitors navigate the city; see City Council's guidance for the Fiscal Year 2019 Budget and what lies ahead for the budget process; and read about holiday happenings in town. To learn more about FYI Alexandria, visit, or email

In this Issue:

  • City Council Affirms Restrictions on Altering Historic Properties
  • City Council Sets Guidance for FY 2019 Budget
  • New Wayfinding Signage Helps Residents, Visitors Get Around Alexandria
  • City Department Performance Reports Now Available
  • City Academies Celebrate Successful Fall Session
  • Alexandria's Fireboat
  • Drug Take Back Day: More Than 512 Pounds Collected
  • City Hosts "Navigator" to Assist with Health Insurance Open Enrollment by December 15 Deadline
  • Help Make the Season Bright for Others
  • Fall Leaf Collection Enters Second Phase
  • Alexandria Again Recognized Among the Nation's Top Digital Cities
  • Community Lodgings, Inc. Awarded HomeAid Northern Virginia's "Nonprofit of the Year"
  • Historic Holiday Happenings on December 9
  • Holidays Shine in the City

Top News

City Council Affirms Restrictions on Altering Historic Properties

At its November 18 Public Hearing, City Council affirmed a decision by the Old & Historic Alexandria District Board of Architectural Review (BAR) to deny an after-the-fact request for approval to paint a historic brick townhouse. The textured tan brick on the house was determined to be original construction material and a signature element of this 1920s building.

After being cited by a City inspector for illegally painting the brick, the homeowners asked the BAR to approve the painting retroactively. In September, the BAR denied the request, finding the paint inappropriate and inconsistent with the zoning ordinance and BAR policies. The applicant then appealed the decision to City Council, which affirmed the BAR's decision to deny the request. The property owners must remove the paint within six months of the final decision.

The integrity of Alexandria's two historic districts rests in all owners following regulations and policies before making alterations. All property owners living in the City's two local historic districts are reminded that exterior alterations visible to the public (including the painting of unpainted masonry), and any demolition over 25 square feet regardless of visibility, require BAR approval.

If you are unsure whether your project requires BAR approval, contact BAR staff for consultation at 703.746.3833 or

If you see work in the historic district that may not have been approved, contact BAR staff by phone or email, or online.

City Council Sets Guidance for FY 2019 Budget

On November 14, City Council passed a resolution establishing the process for formulating the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 General Fund Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Programs for FY 2019-FY 2028. The annual guidance is directed to the City Manager and provided to the Alexandria City Public Schools to assist them in understanding Council's expectations in preparing their Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program requests.

This year's guidance directs the City Manager to propose a budget that maintains the existing real estate tax rate of $1.13 per $100 of assessed value. Changes to other tax rates, fees, fines, and service charges may be considered.

The challenges the City Manager will face in preparing the FY 2019 proposed budget include the fiscal impact of increased school enrollment; funding operations of a new elementary school at 1701 N. Beauregard St.; meeting substantial infrastructure and facility investment needs; and funding the operations of the City government. With revenues projected to grow just 1.3%, the City estimates that a $27 million funding gap will need to be closed.

Council's guidance also instructs the City to conduct public outreach to gather input into the development of the FY 2019 budget, affirms that City Council's budget deliberations and decisions should reflect a balancing of goals stated in the City's recently updated Strategic Plan, and emphasizes a multi-year perspective for fiscal planning.

New Wayfinding Signage Helps Residents, Visitors Get Around Alexandria

New Wayfinding SignageThe City is near the midway point of a multi-year effort to install signage across Alexandria to help residents and visitors better navigate the area and direct them to local retail and cultural attractions. In fiscal year 2017, the City installed more than 60 such "wayfinding" signs along King Street, including 30 new pedestrian-oriented retail signs. The signs, part of a joint venture between the City and participating businesses, have replaced the A-frame signage that previously directed patrons to side street shopping and dining establishments.

New pedestrian mini-kiosks, featuring historical photos and walking maps, have also been installed along King Street at selected intersections. A large, four-sided visitor kiosk installed on Market Square now orients visitors to the Old Town street grid, provides historical information about Market Square, and highlights upcoming activities through interchangeable event panels.

By the end of this year, the City expects to complete the current phase of the project with the installation of approximately 60 vehicular directional signs citywide. These signs will direct motorists to Metro stations, Alexandria neighborhoods, and other key points of interest. Future phases will include installation of new gateway signage at key entrance points to Alexandria; additional vehicular directional signs; and signage identifying key historical and cultural attractions, including museums and parks.

The overall wayfinding signage project, including future phases, is projected to be completed in Fall 2021.

City Department Performance Reports Now Available

City Departments Performance ReportWant to learn more about how the City serves you? Residents can now view annual reports highlighting the key performance of City departments online. These reports, jointly developed by individual departments and the Office of Performance and Accountability, provide departmental data on select key indicators. This information is used to track and evaluate performance on factors that include police response times, development indicators, pavement condition ratings, and more.

  • Website -- Performance Reports

City Academies Celebrate Successful Fall Session

The fall sessions of the City's Academies have graduated, with more than 120 residents, business owners and City employees completing programs that have helped them become more informed about local government.

On November 8, the Office of the Commonwealth's Attorney held its first-ever Community Academy. Thirty-two participants learned about the purpose and operations of the Office, and Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Porter and his staff provided the class with an in-depth look at how a case is prepared for a trial. The first session of the newly re-launched Alexandria Community Fire Academy graduated seven students. Twenty-four students graduated from the Alexandria City Academy after taking a comprehensive look at all aspects of City government and operations; 24 students graduated from the Alexandria Community Police Academy; and 29 students graduated from the Senior Academy after learning about City programs and services of particular interest to seniors.

Academy graduates are now encouraged to make a difference in their community and neighborhoods by volunteering, mentoring or serving on a City board or commission. The next sessions of the Academies will begin in spring 2018. All programs are free; visit the City's website for additional details.

Alexandria's Fireboat

Alexandria's Fireboat

Fireboat 201 protects people and property on and along the Potomac River. This highly specialized boat is part of a regional marine response network and was paid for by a federal homeland security grant.

Drug Take Back Day: More Than 512 Pounds Collected

Drug Take Back DayNorthern Virginians turned in more than 8,400 pounds of expired or unwanted medication at last month's Drug Take Back Day, including 512 pounds in Alexandria. On October 28, personnel from the Alexandria Police Department, Fire Department and Sheriff's Office staffed four drop-off locations for the nationwide initiative organized by the Drug Enforcement Administration to provide a safe, convenient and responsible means of disposing prescription drugs. The Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition of Alexandria (SAPCA) and Alexandria Renew Enterprises distributed educational materials at some of the sites to inform the public about the potential for medication abuse and the importance of safe disposal.

Photo: Deputies at the Del Ray drop-off site collected eight bags of unwanted and potentially dangerous medication (l-r: Volunteer Cullen Prall, Deputy Morgan Garner and Shelly Morgan of SAPCA).

City Hosts "Navigator" to Assist with Health Insurance Open Enrollment by December 15 Deadline

Health Insurance Open EnrollmentThe City of Alexandria is hosting a trained "Navigator" to assist residents in obtaining health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act before the annual open enrollment period ends on December 15. Anyone who needs coverage for 2018 should visit to start an application and shop for plans to take effect as early as January 1, 2018. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides consumers with subsidies that lower the cost of health insurance for low-income households. Appointments are required to speak with a Navigator, and should be scheduled soon, since this year's enrollment period is shorter than in previous years. Call 703.647.4748, or visit to schedule an appointment, or to get other help with enrollment.

Help Make the Season Bright for Others

Alexandria is a caring community!Alexandria is a caring community! You can provide help to children, families and seniors who need it the most this holiday season through the City's Holiday Sharing Program. Sponsor the purchase of gifts for eligible families and individuals or volunteer your time. To learn more, visit

Fall Leaf Collection Enters Second Phase

Fall Leaf CollectionAs fall gives way to winter and leaves continue to fall, the City's annual leaf vacuuming and leaf bag collection has completed the first pass through collection zones and now have begun their second passes. Visit the City's Leaf Collection page to check your collection dates, review preparation instructions, and more.

Alexandria Again Recognized Among the Nation's Top Digital Cities

Digital Cities SurveyFor the 13th consecutive year, Alexandria has been ranked among the top 10 "Digital Cities" of its size, according to the 2017 Digital Cities Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Government. The annual program evaluates cities' approaches to information technology, community engagement, policy and operations.

Digital Cities Survey judges cited Alexandria's strategic planning and capital investments in information technology. The report highlighted work to expand customer account and payment portals, improve customer request tracking, dynamically adjust traffic signal timing based on vehicle volume, leverage social media during emergencies, and apply best practices in cybersecurity.

Community Lodgings, Inc. Awarded HomeAid Northern Virginia's "Nonprofit of the Year"

Nonprofit of the Year AwardOn November 4, Community Lodgings, Inc. (CLI) was awarded "Nonprofit of the Year" by HomeAid Northern Virginia for its excellence in providing affordable housing to low-income families. CLI has a 30-year history of providing housing assistance and support to homeless and low-income families in Alexandria. In September, CLI completed a renovation, valued at nearly $900,000, of one of its multi-family buildings. The 10,446 square-foot building was completely upgraded with new windows; energy efficient appliances; heating, cooling, and plumbing systems; and furniture. Additionally, space was reconfigured to create an additional two-bedroom unit.

The residential property maintains an on-site CLI office and Family Learning Center, where children participate in afterschool and summer programs. This project was completed with the partnership of HomeAid Northern Virginia, Brookfield Residential, Evergreene Companies, M/I Homes, Richmond American Homes, and Madison Homes. The City of Alexandria provided $335,000 in loan funds for the project, consultation, and administrative support.

PHOTO: From L to R: Brandi Collins, Housing Program Specialist, Alexandria Office of Housing and Lynn Thomas, Executive Director, Community Lodgings, Inc.

Historic Holiday Happenings on December 9

On Saturday, December 9, the Office of Historic Alexandria will host special holiday events for families, history buffs, and kids of all ages! Make it a day of historic holiday fun.

The day begins with a Kwanzaa Workshop at the Alexandria Black History Museum (902 Wythe St.) from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Learn about the history, principles, symbols, activities, and decorating ideas of this African American cultural holiday to aid in planning your own celebration. There is a $5 fee for this event and reservations are strongly encouraged; call 703.746.4356 for more information.

From noon until 4 p.m., visit the Civil War Christmas in Camp Open House at Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site (4301 W. Braddock Road) and see how soldiers and civilians celebrated the season. The admission fee is $2 per person, or $5 for families. For more information, call 703.746.4848.

End the day with Alexandria's most popular holiday event, the Historic Alexandria Candlelight Tours. The tours, which run from 4 to 9 p.m., visit historic sites around Old Town and feature seasonal decor, light refreshments and more. Admission fees are $25 for adults, $20 for seniors (65+) and active military, and $5 for children ages 6-17. For tickets, visit The Alexandria Shop; for more information, call 703.746.4242.

Holidays Shine in the City

Nonprofit of the Year AwardIn Alexandria, the festive season began with the annual City Tree Lighting on November 24 in Market Square. From the Scottish Christmas Walk to annual Candlelight tours, our city holds cherished holiday traditions and presents festive activities. Learn about events, holiday safety tips, giving opportunities, and more at

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