Alexandria's Official Resident Newsletter • March 7, 2018
Welcome to FYI Alexandria!
In the latest edition of your resident newsletter, read about how the City's advocacy is helping to keep tall ships coming to Alexandria; find out how the City ranked #1 in Money magazine's "Best Places to Go;" and more.
In this Issue:
City Council Votes Not to Increase 2018 Real Estate Tax or Personal Property Tax Rates
On March 14, City Council voted unanimously not to consider any increases from calendar years 2017 to 2018 in the tax rates for real estate, vehicles, or business tangible property. The real estate tax rate City Council eventually adopts could be the same or lower than the current rate of $1.13 per $100 of assessed value, but cannot be higher.
On February 20, the City Manager proposed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Operating Budget and Capital Improvement Program reflecting no change in any tax rate.
A public hearing on the ordinance establishing the real estate tax rate will be held on Saturday, April 14, at 9:30 a.m., at City Hall (301 King St.), in City Council Chambers.
City Council will adopt a final real estate tax rate in conjunction with the adoption of the FY 2019 budget on Thursday, May 3.
Details about the proposed budget, public budget presentation, public meetings, budget worksessions and online comments, are available on the City's website.
City Advocacy on Maryland's "New Nice Bridge" Project Maintains Tall Ship Visits
Tall ships will continue to visit Alexandria's shores due to the work of City officials who responded to the initial plans for the development of a new bridge connecting Charles County in Maryland and King George County in Virginia. The new span will replace the two-lane, 75-year-old Governor Harry W. Nice Memorial Bridge with a modern, four-lane bridge. The $765 million project was announced by Maryland in 2016.
Recent efforts by the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) to accelerate the project's schedule included a proposal to reduce the height of the bridge, a move that could have prevented tall ships and vessels from coming to Alexandria. City officials advocated for the project to keep the existing vertical clearance of 135 feet to allow Alexandria, and other upstream ports like Washington, D.C., to continue hosting historic tall ships and other tall vessels. MDTA, in collaboration with the City and other project partners, developed options that maintained the accessible vertical clearance.
Groundbreaking on the "new Nice Bridge" will take place in early 2020, with completion anticipated in 2030.
Route 1 Housing Affordability Strategy Project Update
In January, the City began a planning effort focused on five blocks within the Route 1 area south of Duke Street. The timing of this effort is closely tied to the expiration of long-term subsidies that provide deep affordability for two large rental communities located on these blocks – The Heritage at Old Town and Olde Towne West III. The main goal of the initiative is to explore and propose options and tools for preserving the neighborhood's existing committed affordable units.
As part of the planning process, the City recently completed a week-long community workshop, called a charrette. The charrette was a collaborative planning exercise with the community during which participants drafted guiding principles and strategies to prioritize preservation of the affordable housing units in the area, building and site design that complement and contribute to the neighborhood, and safe streets for all. Community members unable to attend in person were invited to follow the charrette progress and participate in real time online throughout the week.
The City is continuing to engage and meet with the community to collect and incorporate comments that will inform the development of the final strategy.
Community members are invited to view a short video explaining the planning process and goals. The video is available in English, Spanish, Amharic and Arabic. To learn more, visit the project webpage.
Money Magazine has announced its 20 Best Places to Go in 2018, and Alexandria tops the list of U.S. destinations. The article cites "Alexandria's red-brick homes and a historic waterfront promenade make it a surprisingly charming, inexpensive outpost for travelers to the D.C. area," and names several local destinations, restaurants, and attractions, including the "walkable mile of King Street that ends at the historic wharf," and the Torpedo Factory Art Center's 82 artist studios and seven galleries, "featuring everything from pottery to stained glass."
Alexandria Fire Department Seeks Recruits
The Alexandria Fire Department is now accepting applications for the Firefighter I position. A Firefighter I performs entry-level firefighting duties, including the safe and efficient operation of fire and emergency medical services apparatus and equipment, provides medical care to the level of a basic emergency medical care technician, performs fire-suppression activities, conducts pre-emergency analysis, maintains equipment and grounds, performs public education in fire prevention, and participates in the physical fitness program.
Each applicant must have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (GED); be at least 18 years of age; have a valid driver's license; and be eligible to work in the United States after a conditional employment offer. For additional information, see the job posting on the City's career website.
Gadsby's Tavern Museum director Liz Williams has received the Small Museum Association Award. The Small Museum Association Award celebrates an individual's outstanding contributions to the advancement of funding for, professional growth within, or accessibility of information to the small museum community on a regional or state level.
Williams joined the City's Office of Historic Alexandria (OHA) in 2004, and has served as director of the Gadsby's Tavern Museum since 2017, acting director for the previous year, and assistant director of the Gadsby's Tavern and Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museums for more than a decade. Both institutions are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) as part of OHA's museum system, one of eight municipal museum systems in the United States to be accredited by the AAM.
Alexandria Library to Take Part in Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation "Great Stories Club"
Alexandria Library, in partnership with the Alexandria Sheriff's Office, has been selected as one of 25 libraries nationwide to take part in the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Great Stories Club. The TRHT Great Stories Club, a program of the American Library Association (ALA), is supported by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Staff from the Library and Sheriff's Office, will work with a small group of incarcerated young adults in book club format, reading and discussing three titles that explore the coming-of-age experience for youth from historically marginalized groups. The books selected will resonate with reluctant readers facing difficult challenges like detention, incarceration, addiction, academic probation, poverty and homelessness. The young adults will also participate in a racial healing session, led by a facilitator familiar with the Kellogg Foundation's TRHT framework and racial healing approach. For more information, please contact Alexandria Library Executive Director Rose Dawson at email@example.com or 703.746.1777.
Springtime Blooms With Fun in Alexandria
As the cherry blossoms bloom, seasonal activities abound in Alexandria. Celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with a scenic cruise on the water taxi from Old Town to the National Mall, or peek into historic homes on the Alexandria Historic Homes & Gardens Tour on April 21, for glimpses of flowers blooming in lush gardens. Embark on the baseball boat to Nationals Park from Old Town for a ballgame starting April 5, or explore rarely-seen spaces at historic sites on Historic Alexandria's Attics and Alleys Tour each Saturday in May. Enjoy a picturesque run from George Washington's Mount Vernon down the George Washington Memorial Parkway and into Old Town Alexandria during the 34th Annual George Washington Parkway Classic on April 22. For more spring activities in Alexandria, see www.VisitAlexandriaVA.com/spring.
Community Garden Plots Now Available for 2018
Got a green thumb? The City's Community Garden plots are still available to rent for the 2018 season, spanning now through November 30. Alexandria residents receive priority on a first come, first served basis. Once all plots have been reserved, a waiting list will be formed and applicants will be notified.
|3/24 -- King Street Holiday Lights Schedule
City of Alexandria Recreation Programs and Facilities' Update
For more events, visit alexandriava.gov/Calendar