Here are updates on several topics that are of importance to our residents.

First, there are several developments regarding the MacArthur School rebuild project. Last night, February 6th, the School Board selected the "Forest" design concept for the new building. This design locates the new building toward the rear of the school property to take advantage of the wooded area that abuts the property. The architects will now work on more detailed plans for the building and submit a site plan to the City to begin the Development Special Use Permit process. This project is on a tight timeline. The existing school building will be torn down in June, and current MacArthur students will attend classes in the old Patrick Henry School building for the next two years. Once the new MacArthur building is ready for occupancy, scheduled for January 2023, the old Patrick Henry school building will be torn down to create playfields and open space that were part of the design for the new Patrick Henry.

As you may be aware, the option of co-locating other city facilities, specifically affordable housing, was raised very late in the design process for MacArthur. Due to the tight timeline for construction, the City Manager and the School Superintendent agreed to withdraw housing as an option for MacArthur, but such housing will be considered for other school sites that will be redeveloped. During the MacArthur design process, other forms of colocation, such as recreational facilities and before and after school care will be studied and added to the design.

There will be a Community Meeting to present the "Forest" design to interested residents on Wednesday, February 19th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the MacArthur Library. All are welcome to attend.

Another meeting of interest on the subject of colocation of municipal services is the Joint Facilities Master Plan Open House at TC Williams on Thursday, February 13th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the TC Williams cafeteria. This meeting will focus on the city-wide recommendations from the City-Schools Joint Task Force. It is now city policy that all feasible opportunities for colocation and shared use of publicly owned sites and services will be explored.

Unfortunately, this Joint Facilities meeting conflicts with our monthly SHA board meeting on February 13th at 7:30 p.m. at Immanuel Church on the Hill, 3606 Seminary Road. Our guest speaker will be Jesse Maines of the Transportation and Environmental Services Division. He will present an overview of both the Taylor Run and Strawberry Run stream remediation projects that are scheduled to begin in the next year. These projects are an attempt to reduce contamination into the Chesapeake Bay from streams that have run-off from fertilizers and other sources. These projects will, however, destroy a number of native plant and tree habitats.  A recent article on January 26th in the Washington Post Metro section discussed the pros and cons of such remediation in nearby Fairfax County. I would recommend that you read this article before attending the meeting with Mr. Maines on the 13th.

SHA board member Frank Putzu wrote a series of articles in The Alexandria Times over several weeks regarding the decision-making process for the Seminary Road reduction of car travel lanes. Frank devoted countless hours of study going over the 626 pages of documents, and we owe him huge thanks for taking on this very important job for SHA. These articles are the result of the Freedom of Information request that SHA funded regarding the concerns that the Alexandria Fire Department and Inova Alexandria Hospital had expressed regarding the proposed changes to the roadway. The Alexandria Times published a lengthy article verifying the facts obtained from the FOIA. If you have not read these articles, you can find them online at alextimes.com

City Council member, Amy Jackson, has asked for an update on the Seminary Road project. She sent a series of questions to the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services and answers have been provided by Yon Lambert, the Director of T&ES. Mr. Lambert reports that the changes have had little or no impact on congestion or cut-through traffic in our neighborhoods. The matter is Docket Item 28 for the February 11th City Council Legislative meeting. The link to the materials for the meeting is https://legistar.granicus.com/alexandria/meetings/2020/2/2036_A_City_Council_Legislative_Meeting_20-02-11_Docket.pdf.

Our new Area 3 representative, Bill Rossello, has been appointed to be the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations’ representative on the Alexandria Mobility Plan Advisory Committee. The Federation had requested that a citizen representing civic associations be appointed to this committee since its composition is overwhelmingly members of other city committees who favor modes of transportation other than motor vehicles. The Alexandria Mobility Plan is an update to the 2008 Transportation Master Plan and will set priorities and create plans to enact those priorities. The AMP will “integrate and advance the goals of major city initiatives including the Environmental Action Plan 2040, Vision Zero, and the Complete Streets Policy and Guidelines.  We have recently seen the effects of those initiatives on Seminary Road. Paid consultants from Kimley Horn are directing the work of the committee, along with staff from T&ES. Bill attended his first meeting last week and added a much-needed different perspective to the group discussion. We thank Bill for his willingness to serve.

I hope to see many of you at our SHA meeting on Thursday, February 13th. Thank you for your interest in SHA.

 

Carter Flemming

President, Seminary Hill Association

Here are updates on several topics that are of importance to our residents.

First, there are several developments regarding the MacArthur School rebuild project. Last night, February 6th, the School Board selected the "Forest" design concept for the new building. This design locates the new building toward the rear of the school property to take advantage of the wooded area that abuts the property. The architects will now work on more detailed plans for the building and submit a site plan to the City to begin the Development Special Use Permit process. This project is on a tight timeline. The existing school building will be torn down in June, and current MacArthur students will attend classes in the old Patrick Henry School building for the next two years. Once the new MacArthur building is ready for occupancy, scheduled for January 2023, the old Patrick Henry school building will be torn down to create playfields and open space that were part of the design for the new Patrick Henry.

As you may be aware, the option of co-locating other city facilities, specifically affordable housing, was raised very late in the design process for MacArthur. Due to the tight timeline for construction, the City Manager and the School Superintendent agreed to withdraw housing as an option for MacArthur, but such housing will be considered for other school sites that will be redeveloped. During the MacArthur design process, other forms of colocation, such as recreational facilities and before and after school care will be studied and added to the design.

There will be a Community Meeting to present the "Forest" design to interested residents on Wednesday, February 19th from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the MacArthur Library. All are welcome to attend.

Another meeting of interest on the subject of colocation of municipal services is the Joint Facilities Master Plan Open House at TC Williams on Thursday, February 13th from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the TC Williams cafeteria. This meeting will focus on the city-wide recommendations from the City-Schools Joint Task Force. It is now city policy that all feasible opportunities for colocation and shared use of publicly owned sites and services will be explored.

Unfortunately, this Joint Facilities meeting conflicts with our monthly SHA board meeting on February 13th at 7:30 p.m. at Immanuel Church on the Hill, 3606 Seminary Road. Our guest speaker will be Jesse Maines of the Transportation and Environmental Services Division. He will present an overview of both the Taylor Run and Strawberry Run stream remediation projects that are scheduled to begin in the next year. These projects are an attempt to reduce contamination into the Chesapeake Bay from streams that have run-off from fertilizers and other sources. These projects will, however, destroy a number of native plant and tree habitats.  A recent article on January 26th in the Washington Post Metro section discussed the pros and cons of such remediation in nearby Fairfax County. I would recommend that you read this article before attending the meeting with Mr. Maines on the 13th.

SHA board member Frank Putzu wrote a series of articles in The Alexandria Times over several weeks regarding the decision-making process for the Seminary Road reduction of car travel lanes. Frank devoted countless hours of study going over the 626 pages of documents, and we owe him huge thanks for taking on this very important job for SHA. These articles are the result of the Freedom of Information request that SHA funded regarding the concerns that the Alexandria Fire Department and Inova Alexandria Hospital had expressed regarding the proposed changes to the roadway. The Alexandria Times published a lengthy article verifying the facts obtained from the FOIA. If you have not read these articles, you can find them online at alextimes.com

City Council member, Amy Jackson, has asked for an update on the Seminary Road project. She sent a series of questions to the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services and answers have been provided by Yon Lambert, the Director of T&ES. Mr. Lambert reports that the changes have had little or no impact on congestion or cut-through traffic in our neighborhoods. The matter is Docket Item 28 for the February 11th City Council Legislative meeting. The link to the materials for the meeting is https://legistar.granicus.com/alexandria/meetings/2020/2/2036_A_City_Council_Legislative_Meeting_20-02-11_Docket.pdf.

Our new Area 3 representative, Bill Rossello, has been appointed to be the Alexandria Federation of Civic Associations’ representative on the Alexandria Mobility Plan Advisory Committee. The Federation had requested that a citizen representing civic associations be appointed to this committee since its composition is overwhelmingly members of other city committees who favor modes of transportation other than motor vehicles. The Alexandria Mobility Plan is an update to the 2008 Transportation Master Plan and will set priorities and create plans to enact those priorities. The AMP will “integrate and advance the goals of major city initiatives including the Environmental Action Plan 2040, Vision Zero, and the Complete Streets Policy and Guidelines.  We have recently seen the effects of those initiatives on Seminary Road. Paid consultants from Kimley Horn are directing the work of the committee, along with staff from T&ES. Bill attended his first meeting last week and added a much-needed different perspective to the group discussion. We thank Bill for his willingness to serve.

I hope to see many of you at our SHA meeting on Thursday, February 13th. Thank you for your interest in SHA.

 

Carter Flemming

President, Seminary Hill Association

We encourage all Seminary Hill residents to attend the Annual Meeting of the Seminary Hill Association on Thursday, November 14th at 7:00 p.m. at the Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill Parish Hall at 3606 Seminary Road. We will have time to socialize until 7:45 when we will have a presentation on the proposed changes to the city bus routes, which will greatly affect the Seminary Hill area. Following that presentation, we will have our business meeting which will include the ratification of our bylaws and the election of the officers and area representatives for 2019-2020. After our meeting, we hope you will stay to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and some refreshments with your neighbors.

 

You can find our bylaws under the “Who We Are” tab on this website. These bylaws were adopted by the SHA board in September after several months of discussion and revisions. The major change to the bylaws is reflected in Article III. This Article was previously entitled “Membership”, but is now entitled “Residency Requirements.” This Article makes it clear that all persons living within the boundaries of the Seminary Hill Association, as defined in the bylaws, is considered a member of the Seminary Hill Association and is represented by SHA. The board made this change to be more inclusive and ensure that all residents within our borders have representation in matters of civic interest. In addition, annual contributions to SHA are voluntary and not a prerequisite for membership.

 

Other changes to the bylaws were more administrative in nature in terms of aligning the duties of the officers with our established practices, the creation of an Executive Committee, recognizing the use of email, our website, and the internet as communication tools, clarifying that board committees may contain both board members and non-board members, clarifying that board members are expected to attend board meetings, providing a process for the removal of a board member in the unlikely event that ever becomes necessary, and the removal of non-relevant language regarding “members in good standing” and “special assessments”.

 

The membership will also vote on the slate of officers and area representatives for 2019-2020. These nominated board members are: President: Carter Flemming, Vice President: Tom Fulton, Treasurer: Nan Jennings, Secretary: Dick Hayes, Area 1: Frances Terrell, Area 2: Bill Goff, Area 3: Bill Rossello, Area 4: Richard Hunt, Area 5: Jack Sullivan, Area 6: Babette Smith, Area 7: Jim Rowley, Area 8: Frank Putzu, and Area 9: Paul Judge. In addition, the appointed representatives that are not subject to membership vote are Episcopal High School: Christina Holt, and Virginia Theological Seminary: Dean Ian Markham. At our December board meeting, the new board will elect At Large members to the board.

 

We hope to see many of you at the Annual Meeting. It has been a busy year for the Seminary Hill Association and we welcome your interest and active participation as we continue to provide informational programs and advocate on behalf of our residents.

Happy New Year to all and I hope everyone had a nice holiday season. Seminary Hill Association (SHA) will have its next monthly board meeting on Thursday, January 9th at 7:30 p.m. at Immanuel Church on the Hill Parish Hall at 3606 Seminary Road. We will have a brief presentation on the River Renew project that addresses our combined sewer remediation and will catch up on some ongoing issues and highlight some new issues coming before City Council in the coming months. Here are a few issues of immediate importance.

If you are interested in the MacArthur School Rebuild Project, I urge you to visit the website for the project at: www.acps.K12.va.us/domain/1379 to review the concepts that have been presented. Bill Pfister is the SHA representative on the ACPS committee and has provided us with some general information that gives us an overview of the project:

General Information

  • The capacity of the current facility is 554 students. Student enrollment is currently around 660 students, although enrollment has been as high as 720 students in recent years.
  • The new school is being designed to accommodate 840 students (38 classrooms), which includes a newly added Pre-K of 72 students (4 classrooms).
  • The new school is being also designed to accommodate special education for 30 students (3 classrooms).
  • K-8 or PreK-8 will NOT be considered for the new school due to land and budget constraints.
  • With the recent acquisition of a neighboring property, the total area for site is not approximately 5 acres, which is one of the smallest of all ACPS properties.
  • All five concepts currently incorporate below-grade (underground) parking, although it hasn’t been determined if this is feasible.
  • Four of the concepts are three stories while the fifth is two stories.
  • The design team will refine the process to 2-3 design concepts based on feedback from the community in early January.
  • School Board will select a final concept in late January

If you have comments on the project, please submit your comments to Bill Pfister at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. this week.  You can also submit comments directly to ACPS at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Bill asks that you copy him on emails sent to ACPS so he can be aware of community concerns during the committee meetings. Finally, there will be another community meeting about the design options on Wednesday, January 15th from 6-8 p.m. at the MacArthur School Library. All are welcome to attend.

As we are all aware, the issue of the Seminary Road diet has occupied much of our time and energy over the last 18 months. SHA was opposed to the road diet and offered an Alternative with numerous safety enhancements, but this Alternative was ignored by the City, and staff’s favored Alternative 3 was adopted by City Council on a vote of 4-3.  Council members Jackson, Seifeldein, and Chapman supported the Traffic and Parking Board and SHA’s and 12 other Civic Associations and the Federation of Civic Associations positions to maintain the road with 4 car travel lanes. Mayor Wilson and Council members Aguirre, Pepper, and Bennett-Parker voted to overturn the recommendation of the Traffic and Parking Board and reduce the car travel lanes to one in each direction. The Virginia Theological Seminary had voted with the SHA Board to maintain the 4 car travel lanes, but without any communication with SHA, switched their position and spoke up vigorously in support of the road diet. This has caused a great deal of tension in the relationship that SHA has always enjoyed with VTS. On January 3rd, VTS Dean and President, Ian Markham, issued the following public statement regarding the position that VTS has taken on this matter:

 Statement by the Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary

 The “Seminary Road Diet”

The Seminary’s position on the “Seminary Road Diet” has created considerable anger and disquiet amongst the Seminary Hill Community and in social media.    Our intention in supporting the road improvements was a way to advance our vision of creating a safer and more walkable neighborhood, where the Seminary’s pub, coffee bar, and chapel were all available just a walk away.  It is now apparent that the City’s newly installed road improvements are not supported by all the residents of Seminary Hill as a way to implementation of this vision for a safe, walkable and connected Seminary Hill Community.  The Seminary has a strong desire to work with the Seminary Hill Community and the City to achieve this vision. 

In furtherance of this vision, the Seminary is supportive of an accessible sidewalk on the north side of Seminary Road on Seminary property. This has been discussed for many years, but the physical constraints imposed by the existing retaining wall have proven problematic in the past.  Perhaps, the discussions should start anew.   A north side pedestrian path should now happen.

The Seminary and I want to continue to foster the good relationships with our neighbors and the Seminary Hill Association. Going forward, I will abstain on all votes relating to the road “Seminary Road Diet. Although students, staff, and faculty may take positions as residents of the City of Alexandria, they do so as individuals and not as representatives of the Seminary. As dean and president, I will not advocate further for any particular position; I will not address council or write any letters or emails on this issue. Instead we will trust the process within the City and step aside from any advocacy.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D.

Dean and President

SHA welcomes the opportunity to restore the open communication and friendship that we have enjoyed with VTS for many decades. We look forward to discussions regarding the sidewalk on the north side of Seminary Road that has consistently been Mayor Wilson’s justification for the road diet. If this sidewalk is constructed on VTS property, rather than in the former westbound car travel lane of Seminary Road, it would seem that the City could save a great deal of money, reallocate funds to other sidewalk projects that are much more necessary, and consider restoring the 4-lane configuration of Seminary Road, as the Mayor's rationale for spearheading the road diet would no longer be valid. SHA will continue to be an active participant in all discussions regarding Seminary Road, and other quality of life issues affecting our neighborhoods.

Finally, I want to bring to your attention the Alexandria Housing Affordability Summit that will take place this coming Saturday, January 11th at the Lee Center at 1108 Jefferson Street. The sessions will begin at 11:00 a.m. with panel discussions occurring throughout the afternoon until 4:15 p.m. The discussions will focus on the City’s Housing Master Plan and “explore bold new ideas to address the city’s affordable housing challenges.” One of those new ideas being discussed is to end single-family zoning restrictions. This is being done in other cities, such as Minneapolis, and the Housing Director of Minneapolis will be one of the panelists speaking at 11:00. Such a zoning change would obviously have a great impact on Seminary Hill neighborhoods, and other neighborhoods across the city. Attendees are asked to register at the following website: www.alexandriava.gov/housing/info/default.aspx?id=110986.

Thank you for your interest in these issues and others that will be part of SHA’s meetings and discussions in the coming year. As always, all are welcome to attend our monthly board meetings and address issues of concern to you.

Carter Flemming

President, Seminary Hill Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We encourage all Seminary Hill residents to attend the Annual Meeting of the Seminary Hill Association on Thursday, November 14th at 7:00 p.m. at the Immanuel Church-on-the-Hill Parish Hall at 3606 Seminary Road. We will have a time to socialize until 7:45 when we will have a presentation on the proposed changes to the city bus routes, which will great affect the Seminary Hill area. Following that presentation, we will have our business meeting which will include the ratification of our bylaws and the election of the officers and area representatives for 2019-2020. After our meeting, we hope you will stay to enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and some refreshments with your neighbors.

 

You can find our bylaws under the “Who We Are” tab on this website. These bylaws were adopted by the SHA board in September after several months of discussion and revisions. The major change to the bylaws is reflected in Article III. This Article was previously entitled “Membership”, but is now entitled “Residency Requirements.” This Article makes it clear that all persons living within the boundaries of the Seminary Hill Association, as defined in the bylaws, is considered a member of the Seminary Hill Association and is represented by SHA. The board made this change to be more inclusive and ensure that all residents within our borders have representation in matters of civic interest. In addition, annual contributions to SHA are voluntary and not a prerequisite for membership.

 

Other changes to the bylaws were more administrative in nature in terms of aligning the duties of the officers with our established practices, the creation of an Executive Committee, recognizing the use of email, our website, and the internet as communication tools, clarifying that board committees may contain both board members and non-board members, clarifying that board members are expected to attend board meetings, providing a process for the removal of a board member in the unlikely event that ever becomes necessary, and the removal of non-relevant language regarding “members in good standing” and “special assessments”.

 

The membership will also vote on the slate of officers and area representatives for 2019-2020. These nominated board members are: President: Carter Flemming, Vice President: Tom Fulton, Treasurer: Nan Jennings, Secretary: Dick Hayes, Area 1: Frances Terrell, Area 2: Bill Goff, Area 3: Bill Rossello, Area 4: Richard Hunt, Area 5: Jack Sullivan, Area 6: Babette Smith, Area 7: Jim Rowley, Area 8: Frank Putzu, and Area 9: Paul Judge. In addition, the appointed representatives that are not subject to membership vote are: Episcopal High School: Christina Holt, and Virginia Theological Seminary: Dean Ian Markham. At our December board meeting, the new board will elect At Large members to the board.

 

We hope to see many of you at the Annual Meeting. It has been a busy year for the Seminary Hill Association and we welcome your interest and active participation as we continue to provide informational programs and advocate on behalf of our residents.

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