Nan's notes


Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) announces a new menu at its Café 1823-the pub on campus near the Post Office-3737 Seminary Road-open 5-11 pm. The Café now has a full-time cook and welcomes the public to come by; especially for its dinner buffet 5-7 pm Sunday-Thursday for $14. On the new menu are draft beers, wine, and cocktails; snacks, soup & salad, burgers, wings, fish & chips, pasta, and Reubens, all under $10. There is also a kids' menu. Memberships are available but not required; they will keep you informed of activities and discounts at the Café.
The Alexandria Health Department is asking residents to take a survey as part of the Community Health Needs Assessment. The survey takes about 3 minutes and can be found at https://www.livehealthynova.org/. The results of the survey will be discussed during a community breakfast meeting on Saturday, 3 November, 9:30 - 11:30 AM, at the George Washington Middle School, 1005 Mount Vernon Ave.
Robert Ray, who is running for election to the City Council, attended the SHA meeting. He runs an antique business in Old Town that his parents started and opposes the Business Improvement District (BIC) and proposals from the parking task force. He represents the interests of small business owners and believes City Government could be thriftier.
Remember to vote in the primary! In addition to Robert Ray, three other newcomers have declared-Dak Hardwick, Mo Seifeldein, and Amy Jackson-for potentially two seats.
Amy Jackson from Area 6 is running for election to the City Council. Plan to vote in the primary on June 21.
No one has stepped forward to head the Canopy Tree Campaign Project on Seminary Hill.
The City encourages neighborhoods to participate in a Canopy Tree Campaign Project. Volunteers are needed to organize it for Seminary Hill.
Fire Chief Robert Dube discussed a 3-year study on "Location of Fire Houses in Alexandria" and possible plans to close the Seminary Hill Fire House. He said that four stations-numbers 203, 205, 206, and 207-need to be re-built or replaced in the future to meet the needs of current fire equipment and teams. He said the planned movement of Station 206 further west across I-395 to Mark Center would not affect response times because Alexandria already coordinates with Fairfax County and Arlington County. Determination of which stations might close is not slated to happen for 5 years {2022).
SHA Board Member At Large, Joe Fischer, reported that power was out in his area on Super Bowl Sunday night because of an electrical fire that affected 22,000 homes.
A group of Seminary Hill residents--Carolyn Griglione, Joe Fisher, Chuck Schwiddie, Frank Homberger, and Jack Sullivan�met with the Inova Alexandria hospital CEO Susan Caroll about plans to expand. In Alexandria, double rooms for patients are being retrofitted into single rooms and doctors are requesting office space nearby. Ideally, Inova would like 25-30 acres to build a new hospital and will know more by the end of 2017 about its plans for the Alexandria site. If the hospital moves, the site reverts to R-8 residential housing.
Arlington County residents met with Verizon about expanding FIOS into Fairlington.
Arlington County met with officials about helicopter noise on 16 December. Police Chief Cook indicated that Alexandria police own no helicopters but routinely ask for the assistance of Fairfax County if the need arises for aerial help. This accounts for some of the helicopter noise.
The City now prohibits signs being posted on the City right-of-way. SHA may have to advertise the Annual Meeting in a new fashion.
SHA wrote a recommendation for SHA Area 3 Representative, Dick Hobson, to serve as one of two at-large positions on the City's Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Confederate Memorials and Street Names.
The West End Coalition of civic groups sponsored a Forum of the 11 Candidates running for City Council on November 3. Please vote for six!
The City's Department of Parks & Recreation has plans to build a new pool at the Chinquapin complex, for which City Council has set aside $23 million. The overall cost of the project is more than $30 million. Fund raising efforts are underway to make up the difference. The ultimate goal of the Advocates for Alexandria Aquatics is to have two pools at Chinquapin, the current one and a new one that meets regulations for swim meets (Olympic size).
The timing/scheduling of the sanitary sewer rehabilitation project on Seminary Hill is unclear. After getting details over the summer about relining some older sewer pipes, for which homeowners would need to take some precautions, notification is not as expected.
SHA's Area 1 Representative Lillian Stanton Patterson co-authored a book with Sarah R. Robertson, 'The Shiloh Story, Journey to Jubilee: 150 Years.' Lillian is a lifelong resident of Alexandria with a family history in the city dating back to the 1800s. The book chronicles the history of Shiloh Baptist Church - 1401 Duke Street - its Civil War beginnings, its clergy, church officers, community efforts, and the many historical events encountered over the years.
The City is working to complete a project to reline some older sewer pipes on Seminary Hill. Homeowners will be without water for a day and may notice a strong smell best described as �model airplane glue. Homes scheduled for relining will receive written notices with instructions about putting water in drains to fill traps, and about ventilating with open windows. Not all pipes on Seminary Hill will be relined in this project.
The West End Coalition of civic groups is sponsoring a Candidate Forum on September 17 to meet those running for City Council in the November election. If you have questions to ask the candidates, please send them to Nan at nrjennings@comcast.net.
Three master gardener interns - Beverly Patton, Nancy Davis, and Judy Kelsen - organized the Fort Williams Park clean-up again this year to remove invasive species.
Funding for the Potomac Yard Metro remains problematic. Neither the Federal nor State Governments is interested. A special tax zone with a 20 percent surcharge was proposed. The two locations for the station will impact either the Potomac Greens development or the parkland associated with the George Washington Parkway. Some City residents still favor the 'No Build' option.
SHA agreed to sponsor a Candidate Forum with the West End Coalition on September 17, 2015 before the November elections for City Council and allocated $200 for expenses.
SHA is a member of a coalition of various citizen groups in the West End for the purpose of sharing information and discussing City problems and solutions. Topics at the January meeting included the City budget, Ewald Park, and the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan. The Coalition will sponsor a candidates Forum before City elections this November.
SHA sent a letter to the Mayor and City Council concerning a lack of timely notification by the City on issues it undertakes and specifically asks for citizen involvement in selecting the next City Manager.
The City plans to rehabilitate existing sewer pipes and manholes in the Holmes Run Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation program. It will take 3 days for any area undergoing this maintenance which will cover cleaning, lining and inspection of the completed work but only about 5 hours of water service/sewer service interruption.
The construction of the elevator at Alexandria Inova Hospital has created drainage problems that will need to be managed. Neighbors have commented that the elevator is larger in size and scope they were led to believe.
The City released a 103-page Citywide Parks Improvement Plan 2014 about six parks: Chinquapin, Four Mile Run, Simpson, Hensley, Holmes Run, and Ben Brenman. To see the details visit the City website.
The Alexandria Inova Hospital continues to do construction and the lights will be removed once it is finished.
SHA Board Members discussed the spotty service provided to homeowners on leaf pickup this season. The City failed to keep its three schedule pickups in some SHA neighborhoods—sometimes missing by a week or altogether—while in others no problems.
Differences among Alexandria Inova Hospital and nearby property owners over a landscape plan from 2012 were resolved.
The St. James Group LLC made a proposal to the City to lease Hensley Park on Eisenhower Avenue to private developers to build an elite sports club that would sell memberships. After a review of materials about restrictions on the potential uses for Hensley Park—based on the sources of funding used to acquire the property—the proposal as withdrawn.
A water main break closed a portion of Quaker Lane between Trinity and Duke Streets. It was followed by a break in the gas line. The section of Quaker Lane was recently repaved.
CEO Karen Pallansch and Joelle Jordan of Alexandria Renew gave an informative presentation and answered questions about Alexandria’s sanitation challenges and the new billing system. From 1952 to 2012, the Alexandria Sanitation Authority onstructed, operated, and maintained a sewage disposal system to serve Alexandria and portions of Fairfax County. In 2012 it became Alexandria Renew Enterprises as part of a re-branding effort to reflect a broader strategy, reclamation of water, innovation, and sustainability. The water used by residents of Alexandria is provided by three different systems: Virginia American Water delivers the water, the City of Alexandria maintains the sewer lines that takes water—both delivered and rain—away, and Alexandria Renew treats all the dirty water. Before 2012, Virginia American Water billed Alexandria residents for the water, sewers, and treatment. Now Virginia American Water only bills for the water delivered to residents. Alexandria Renew bills for the sewer lines and the treatment. Alexandria Renew has two major capital projects in progress—a facility to remove nitrogen from the water and upgrades to the Four Mile Run Pump Station—and is proposing a rate restructuring. CEO Pallansch invited SHA members to ask questions at any time—her number is (703) 549-3381 ext. 2202 and Joelle Jordan’s (703) 528-4184——to use their community meeting room at the Eisenhower facility, and to take a tour of the plant in cooler weather. SHA resident Bill Dickinson is on the Alexandria Renew Board of Directors.
Some Alexandrians are proposing that a West Eisenhower Small Area Plan be written sooner than in 2016. SHA has no position.
Norfolk Southern Railroad is asking for more capacity to off-load ethanol from 12 to 30 railroad cars. Everyone, including City staff, was surprised at the request. SHA will await the plans of Cameron Station Civic Association before taking a position.
Heather Zdancewicz reported that the Virginia Theological Seminary Christian Rock concert was VERY successful.
The SHA Board of Directors tabled an amendment to the By-Laws that would have allowed them to vote electronically—by email—since City actions were being fast tracked and assembling a quorum is sometimes very difficult. It will not be brought up at the Annual Meeting in November.
Treasurer Jack Sullivan reported the spring effort to collect annual dues was a tremendous success, and he has updated the SHA membership list. This drive was not a fund raiser—SHA has very few expenses—but rather an effort to verify support from the community.
The Fort Williams Park clean-up was a success. Police were asked to remove graffiti in the park. Also the Sheriff’s office was asked to send a work crew to clean out the stones used for drainage by a pipe, the dead trees, and some of the piles of brush.
The legislative director from Congressman Moran's office - Tim Aiken - spoke at SHA's meeting and was made aware of concerns about plans to stage construction on the GW Parkway for the Metro at Potomac Yard.
SHA Board of Directors is considering an amendment to the By-Laws that would allow them to vote electronically - by email - since City actions are being fast tracked and assembling a quorum is sometimes very difficult. The Board's amendment to the By-Laws is subject to membership approval at the Annual Meeting.
Treasurer Jack Sullivan mailed a reminder to members about annual dues and received a good response (almost 100 renewed). This was not a drive to fund SHA - which has very few expenses - but rather to verify support from the community. The Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations - of which SHA is a member - was challenged as to how members are counted. During Transportation and Planning Commission meetings, commissioners tried to marginalize my comments as President of SHA by questioning who I represent. Having an up-to-date list of dues paying members validates the work the Board does.
The new City budget dropped the funding for aquatic facilities in the West End. When the Beauregard Corridor Plan is built, the pool will be closed and no new one built.
The City Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities Department published results of a survey about Chinquapin Park. A City urban planner, Dana Wadeles, will speak at the SHA meeting on April 11 about five areas to improve: mobility of people and vehicles, the number of gardens, the playground, maintenance, and the uses of the green space to meet TC students' needs.
The West End Alexandria Patch ran a series 'History on the Hill' about four of a dozen notable homes on Seminary Hill as well as Aspinwall Hall at the Virginia Theological Seminary.
SHA residents have had discussions about new tennis courts for T.C. Williams High School.
Inova Alexandria Hospital was ranked #4 out of all 59 hospitals in the metropolitan DC area by US New and World Report.
Expect late night train noise until November because CSX Transportation Company is performing overnight railroad track work between Alexandria and Woodbridge, Sunday through Thursday, between 8:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. The project is expected to be completed November 1. Sounding of train horns is a federal requirement that the City cannot regulate.
The Patch news service now has a website for the West End.
The Patch news organization is planning to roll out an electronic news site in September—the West End Patch—similar to the Old Town Alexandria Patch.
The Alexandria Times reported in the article “Final destination” that “Nancy Jennings of the planning department traded emails with Carr Hospitality’s Austin Flajser and described the company’s latest tweaks to the hotel design as “generally favorable” to city staff.” For the record, that was not Nan Jennings of SHA but someone else who supports a developer’s plans for a hotel on the Waterfront. Nan Jennings does NOT work for the City of Alexandria.
Inova Alexandria Hospital gave a status report about improvements and projects: exterior landscaping is completed, while the replacement of the air handling unit and exterior building maintenance with scaffolding continues. New projects include improving pedestrian access from the Seminary Road bus stop, a survey of their tree population by an arborist, and a Community Health needs Assessment.
The City is proposing a new location for the Potomac Yard Metro Station on the wetlands abutting the George Washington Parkway that citizens fought to preserve as a nature area. This new location could include access from the Parkway, provided the Park Service agrees.
SHA’s Board of Directors discussed the need for more information about how citizen interests are represented—who, for example—on committees and advisory groups that are making decisions that directly affect the quality of life in our neighborhoods, such as Transportation, Parks & Recreation, and the School Board.
SHA recommended William Dickinson to City Council and endorsed his candidacy as a Citizen Member of the Alexandria Sanitation Authority. He was selected on February 18, 2012. Congratulations Bill!
The Seminary Road Post Office is still on the list of post offices that may be closed as a cost saving measure. Decisions were put off until May 2012.
The Federation of Civic Associations has updated its website.
At a special meeting in October, the SHA Board of Directors approved the following motion about the proposal to expand the Safeway: “Seminary Hill Association, Inc., opposes the rezoning of the Bradlee Safeway store as now proposed as a ‘Big Box’ store for a number of reasons including the delivery truck service route, the increase in FAR, and the mass and scale of the project.”
A large turnout to hear about plans for a larger Safeway at the Bradlee Shopping Center. This was the first meeting at which a City staff person from the Transportation & Environmental Services Department attended. His presentation caused dissention among property owners present, including Lindsay Lexus.
The Seminary Road Post Office is again on the list of post offices that may be closed as a cost saving measure. Since that operation is a profitable one—the USPS pays no rent or utilities for the VTS building and only for postal supplies and equipment and the part-time post mistress (who would be relocated if it is closed)—the hope is that this post office can remain open. Send your thoughts and feelings about this proposal to—Post Office Review Coordinator, P. O. Box 3603, Winchester, VA 22604—no emails (it’s the USPS)—by November 21, 2011.
All historical buildings at the Virginia Theological Seminary had significant damage from the earthquake in August. One chimney had to come down and al of the others repaired. The Seminary has opened a small café that operates from 4-11 daily, selling food and drinks. Plans for the new chapel should be presented in December with the building taking about two more years. It will be a new building beside the library that will create a new traffic pattern. The site of the old chapel and what remains after the fire will become a contemplation garden.
Inova Hospital completed its outdoor lighting project in July and was paving the parking lot in September. It has plans to replace the roof and air handling unit on the 62 building (tower) so there may be a crane on site this winter. Hospital security continues to monitor the parking on North Howard Street in efforts to ensure that hospital staff and patients are parking in the appropriate designated lots. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Rachael Chieza, 703-504-3618 (Office), 703-400-4259 (Cell)
A public meeting about Safeway’s proposal to build a lifestyle store at the Bradlee Shopping Center is scheduled for Thursday, October 6, in the Sister's City Room 1101, City Hall, 301 King Street. The proposal may be on the Planning Commission’s docket for November 1. While the new food store may be an asset to the community, it will invite additional shoppers—traffic—and the store is proposing changing the delivery dock from the King Street side to West Braddock, which will put trucks on West Braddock. The City has also raised the idea of changing the design of the Braddock-King-Quaker intersection (dysfunction junction). The public hearing and plan approval for the redesigned intersection is on a different time schedule than the approval process for the Safeway.
SHA’s annual meeting will be on Thursday, November 10, and will include a panel discussion of Transportation and Transit in the West End. The nominating committee that consists of Dick Hobson, Joanne Lepanto, Joe Fischer and Carter Flemming is accepting nominations for several open positions.
Heather Zdancewicz reported three items of interest about the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS). 1. It suffered significant damage in the recent earthquake; every historical building needs repair and one chimney must be rebuilt. 2. It now has a 50 person café in the small dining room that is open from 4-11 p.m. daily. 3. It is progressing with plans to build a new larger chapel in another place and to maintain the location of the chapel that burned as a contemplation garden. When concept designs are complete, SHA will have a presentation likely at the December or January meeting. Construction of the new chapel from start to finish is likely to take 2 years. Because VTS was established in 1823 in Fairfax County, it does not follow the City of Alexandria’s SUP process.
Innova Hospital has completed its outdoor lighting project (new light poles and heads) and will repave the parking lot over three weekends 7am–7pm. Other planned projects include the replacement of the roof and air handling unit on 62 building (tower) that may include a crane on site, routine exterior building maintenance, and exterior landscaping improvements. For more information contact Rachael Chieza at the hospital 703-504-3618.
The US Postal Service (USPS) is proposing closing some local post offices and the list might include the Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) post office building on Seminary Road. Since that operation is a profitable one—the USPS pays no rent or utilities for the VTS building and only for the part-time post mistress and postal supplies and equipment—the hope is that this post office can remain open.
Safeway has yet to present its plans to build a lifestyle store at the Bradlee Shopping Center to City Council. Meanwhile, some citizens have expressed concerns about the proposed architectural design—a modern glass and steel building that may not fit with nearby structures—and delivery trucks that will be moved from King Street onto West Braddock Road.
Tom Fulton was elected to fill the Area 6 vacancy on SHA’s Board of Directors.
Marie Schuler from Comcast and Rose Boyd and Darryl Edwards representing the City provided an overview of “The Future of Comcast in Alexandria” at the June meeting. Topics discussed included the current process and policies of Comcast in Alexandria and Alexandria’ s franchise policy with Comcast. Basically, in accordance with various State and Federal laws, Comcast is here to stay. Verizon’s FIOS system will probably not come to Alexandria because Verizon has determined the cost of running the lines is greater than the benefits to the company. SHA members complained about poor maintenance and bad cable reception. Pictures were passed around showing dilapidated junction boxes which undoubtedly contribute to the poor reception. Ms. Schuler said she would notify the Comcast maintenance office of the situation. She also provided her phone number for those who wish to call and lodge a complaint. Her phone number at Comcast is (703) 567-4488.
Five residents worked hard for a couple of hours on a Saturday morning cleaning up Fort Williams Park. Mainly they cut ivy from about half the trees. A work crew of non-violent offenders from the City jail may be able to remove some of the downed branches and other debris. Thanks to John Smucker for organizing the event. Consider spending a few hours removing ivy from the remaining trees when you have time.
Several Area representatives—specifically 5, 8 and 9—complained that, despite calls to City Hall, no one has mowed the grass in the medians.
Tom Fulton was nominated for the Area 6 vacancy on SHA’s Board of Directors. Other nominations are welcome. The election will be at the next meeting on June 9.
Safeway representative Avis Black sought community feelings about a replacing the Bradlee Safeway store with a new lifestyle store like those in Georgetown and at Wilston. Lee Quill is the architect and Duncan Blair—who is also a SHA resident—is the attorney. The current store has 45,000 sq. ft., and Safeway wants to increase it to about 65,000 sq. ft. (around 44 percent more). The proposed new store would be a large rectangle in podium design where parking is at ground level and the store is above the parking lot—one level with a 10 foot ceiling. The store itself would be only one level, customers would park under it and then use stairs, escalators, and elevators to access it. The new structure would not exceed 50 feet tall (lower than the tower on the medical building next door). The zoning on the parcel would have to be doubled from the current 1992 zoning in order to build this bigger, denser store. Safeway is also proposing moving the delivery truck access from the King Street side to the West Braddock Road side.
Safeway’s proposed store is designed to offer a place to both shop and eat. It would have roomier isles with more produce and new features, such as a sit down restaurant, a Starbucks, perhaps a pizza oven or sushi bar, and restrooms for customers. It would have the same number of full size parking spaces as it has today. It may have a separate small retail store at ground level for something like a dry cleaners (between the new Safeway and the gas station). Construction would take between a year and a year and a half, during which time, prescriptions would be available nearby and employees would be assigned positions in other Safeway stores.
According to an article in the All Fairlington Bulletin, the City is considering installing a sidewalk along the north side of King Street, west of Quaker Lane to perhaps South Taylor Street or longer to South Wakefield Street. Alexandria T&ES is proposing the sidewalk for future planning; currently there are no immediate plans to implement any proposal, because the city does not have the money to fund construction.
The Board of Directors passed a motion to eliminate the position of Communications Officer. The membership must approve this decision at the next annual meeting in November and officially change the SHA Bylaws.
A number of SHA Board Members agreed that the City has done a great job at removing trees downed during recent storms both in Fort Ward Park and our neighborhoods!
Lillian Patterson reported she has asked the City to post “Children at Play” signs on Area 1 streets.
Dick Hobson, Joe Fischer, and Joanne Lepanto volunteered to work on the nominating committee for next year’s Board Members.
Interested citizens may comment on the City's proposed Wayfinding Signs posted in Old Town from May 14 to 23.
President Jennings sent a letter to Comcast, City Council, the FCC, and the Alexandria Gazette about Comcast's poor service in Seminary Hill. All have responded.
Residents may notice an increase in train whistles because of construction near 4500 Wheeler Avenue. Railroad regulations require these whistles and the railroad is not subject to local noise ordinance restrictions.
Residents will continue to suffer with the bright lights in the Innova Hospital parking lot until a contractor repairs the existing lighting that was damaged by water. Residents plan to have a formal meeting with a hospital manager.
Residents continue to complain about Comcast service. SHA Board of Directors will send a letter to City Council advising that some SHA residents continue to have below-standard services from Comcast. Problems should be reported to: City—Darryl Edwards (703) 838-4350, Comcast—Maria Schuller (703) 567-4488, and Comcast tech—Michael Ferguson (703) 856-0568.
The City created a group to write a Housing Master Plan with two other City groups that work this issue. Rob Krupika asked for this plan so see if funding from the City's affordable housing tool that allows more density in exchange for affordable housing units would be better spent by the City than as units in new buildings which are the more expensive. The City hired about five contractors to do this plan, RKG Associates, Inc., has the lead. SHA Board Member Carter Flemming will represent SHA in this effort. If you want to get involved: May 1 tour, May 6 next meeting, Jun 3, Jul 1, Sep 16, Oct 7, Nov 11, Dec 2, Jan 6, Jan 8, Feb 3, Mar 1, Apr 7 Draft Plan.
The City’s Planning & Zoning staff will present Small Business Zoning Recommendations to the Planning Commission on May 3 and to City Council on May 15. SHA’s subcommittee will develop a position. These recommendations may erode the definition of an Industrial Zone by permitting retail and commercial uses WITHOUT either an industrial needs study or an economic study, may increases the number of allowable restaurant seats from 60 to 100 without a public hearing or notice to neighbors or an increase in parking spaces, may not change the random Trees & Trash fee levied on new SUPs (but not retail), and may give FAR deductions in new buildings for day-care centers and other community uses.
The City contracted for a study of the uses at the Torpedo Factory Art Center that was delivered in February 2010. The study focused on making the complex more successful commercially, including relocating the City’s archaeology museum. The study will be posed on the SHA website. No public meetings are scheduled to discuss the future of the Torpedo Factory.