Alexandria waterfront News Update — Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Dear Friend of the Alexandria Waterfront, here is an important update on key waterfront issues:
Council Candidates Forum at 7:00 this evening
Old Town Civic Association (OTCA) and the North Old Town Independent Citizens Association (NOTICe) are sponsoring a forum this evening for all the candidates in the November 3 City Council election. The forum will run from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and will be held in the auditorium of the Lee Center at 1108 Jefferson Street. All eleven Council candidates will participate in this non-partisan forum. The forum is open to the public and is free of charge. This will be an excellent opportunity for voters to hear the candidates answer questions about Alexandria issues, including waterfront development.
City Council to act this Saturday, October 17, on the development plan for Robinson Terminal North
This Saturday, October 17, City Council will consider approving the Robinson Terminal North (RTN) project. Clearly, the City would like to get this project approved before the mayoral and council elections on November 3. Here is the link to the agenda for Saturday’s Council meeting: https://alexandria.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=412461&GUID=F46EC054-BA41-4556-8D4D-D051390C791D RTN is item number 8 on the agenda.
Here is the link to the 163-page staff report on the RTN project: http://alexandria.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=697f4d29-25e3-485e-8379-e84d8438ef4c.pdf Here is the link to the preliminary site plan for the project: http://alexandria.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=7f116c3d-099f-424d-88e0-577ed34ee195.pdf Here is the link to the 66-page staff presentation for this project: http://alexandria.legistar.com/gateway.aspx?M=F&ID=b51ae163-c0b3-49f4-bc25-f5e1b9e6868a.pdf
In speaking or writing to Council members, FAWers need to zero in on key shortcomings in the RTN proposal, including the following, with staff report page citations in parentheses:
- A reduction in required parking for the 66 condo units, the 132-room hotel, and as many as 505 restaurant seats, from 294 parking spaces to 260 spaces(page 38).
- As many as fourrestaurants — one in the hotel on the west side of Union; the remainder in the east building (pages 30-31).
- RTN residents would be able to obtain residential parking permitseven though such permits were barred for residents of Robinson Terminal South (page 36). After some discussion, the Planning Commission, at its October 8 hearing on RTN, declined to recommendthat RTN residents be denied residential parking permits. Council can, and should, reject that recommendation and bar parking permits for RTN residents.
- Trucking rather than barging for 61% of the dirt to be hauled to or from the RTN site. That equates to 4,682 round-trip truck trips over north Old Town streets (pages 23-25, 105-106).
The report acknowledges the feasibility of barging dirt from the RTN pier (page 105) but claims it is more costly (page 106). Whether more costly or not, the RTN developer (CityInterests) offers a most absurd rationale for trucking away the dirt actually excavated for the project’s underground garage: If this project were located elsewhere in the city, the excavated dirt would have to be trucked away (page 23). City staff bought this rationale. What the staff report glosses over is the fact that the dirt which would be trucked over city streets and passed Old Town homes is highly contaminated and can readily be barged to a disposal site! While the report notes at the top of page 106 that “the excavated materials, much of it presumed to be contaminated . . .”, in fact this soil is highly contaminated, the result of the operations of the Bogle Chemical company on the site from 1924 to 1976. Those operations were principally the formulation of herbicides the Southern Railroad used for weed control along its railroad right-of-ways.
As a 2001 report prepared for the City noted on page 44, “the [RTN] site is currently subject to a Consent Agreement from the U.S. EPA arising out of the investigation of arsenic contamination . . . the Consent Agreement also regulates the disposal of waste materials resulting from construction or ground disturbance on the property.” Here is the link to that report: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=3&ved=0CCkQFjACahUKEwiMi4HLqaPIAhUJez4KHYz_BZU&url=https%3A%2F%2Falexandriava.gov%2FuploadedFiles%2Ftes%2Finfo%2Falexandria_water_quality_master_plan.pdf&usg=AFQjCNEGp8BYayS4eJoT3__K7Rgbwx5rlg&cad=rja One question Council must consider is whether the development plan for RTN addresses adequately the terms of this Consent Agreement, including the removal of contaminated soil. The numerous trucking problems at the Carr project, including the spreading of dirt and dust on nearby streets, strongly argue for requiring that all dirt at RTN be removed by barge rather than truck.
If you plan to speak at Saturday’s Council meeting, you can sign-up at the meeting to speak for up to three minutes. Alternatively, you can sign up in advance here: http://survey.alexandriava.gov/s3/City-Council-Speakers-Form When filling out the form, plug in the date for Saturday’s Council meeting (October 17, 2015); the Docket item for the RTN project is 8. If you cannot attend Saturday’s Council meeting, it will be televised on cable channel 70.
Even if you plan to speak at Saturday’s Council meeting, email comments and concerns about the RTN project to members of Council before Saturday; encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Here are the email addresses for the Mayor and members of Council:
Although the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) did review preliminary designs for the RTN project and offer an advisory opinion about them, RTN lies outside the Old & Historic District. Therefore, the final design of RTN will not be subject to BAR approval.
Robinson Terminal South
Signatures are being collected to appeal to City Council the October 7 decision by the BAR to approve the design of buildings #1 and #2 at Robinson Terminal South (RTS), the two buildings facing the river. The petition must be signed by at least 25 owners of property located in the Old & Historic District and must be filed with the Council Clerk by next Wednesday, October 21. Petitions can be signed at Hal Hardaway’s garage, 311 South Union Street.
Separately, on Wednesday, October 21, the BAR is scheduled to act on the design of the RTS townhouses as well as building #3, facing Wolfe Street. The agenda for the October 21 BAR meeting will be found here: https://alexandria.legistar.com/View.ashx?M=A&ID=367189&GUID=4E8CF38C-B7CE-41DE-9473-A1F7FF7C0D10
Ad Hoc Monitoring Group for Waterfront Construction
The Ad Hoc Monitoring Group for Waterfront Construction will hold its first weekly on-site meeting tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. to discuss construction issues arising from the Carr hotel project. The meeting will be held in the parking lot lying between Strand and South Union and between the Carr site and Chadwicks, in front of the offices of the Potomac River Boat Company. The public is invited to attend to raise their concerns about construction impacts. If it is raining, the meeting will held in an adjacent office. All are welcome to attend!
The Monitoring Group will hold its next monthly meeting on Monday, November 2, at 5:30 p.m. in the Sister Cities Conference Room, which is entered from City Hall’s Cameron Street lobby. Sometime before then an agenda for that meeting will be posted on the Monitoring Group’s webpage: http://www.alexandriava.gov/special/waterfront/default.aspx?id=82590
Carr project update
Carr City Centers, the builder of the hotel at Duke and South Union, has just issued a progress update for this project, which can be found here: http://02a2030.netsolhost.com/images/220_South_Union_Street_Update_101315.pdf
Who to contact about waterfront construction problems
Here is who citizens should contact with regard to specific problems they encounter along the waterfront:
- In a true emergency situation (motor vehicle or bicycle accident, fire, explosion, etc.) call 911 immediately. Be prepared to provide details of the emergency.
- For non-emergency violations of law, call the police non-emergency number, 703-746-4444. Non-emergency events are parking violations, dump trucks with uncovered loads, traffic violations, bicycles running stop signs, and the like. Be prepared to provide details about the violation, such as vehicle license plate number, color, time of the violation, etc.
- For civil violations, i.e., violations of construction permits for the waterfront projects or other complaints related to waterfront construction activities, please contact Emilio Pundavela, the City employee designated to receive these complaints. You can call Emilio, day or night, on his cell phone: 571-221-8309. You also can email him at: email@example.com. Civil violations include trucks not traveling over the designated haul route, excessive vibrations and noise from construction activities, construction workers parking on City streets instead of in the parking places designated for them, and any other violations for which the police cannot issue a ticket.
In addition to contacting Emilio, you also can bring your complaint to the City’s attention by registering it through Call-Click-Connect, using this link: http://request.alexandriava.gov/CCC/#tab=Find City staff are supposed to respond to a complaint within five business days. In order to track your complaint once it has been filed, you need to register with MyAlex, which you can do here: https://apps.alexandriava.gov/Login/COARegister.aspxand click on Create account. However, waterfront-related complaints requiring immediate attention should be phoned in to the police or brought to Emilio’s attention.
Please contact us if you have questions about what is happening along the waterfront. Also visit www.alexandriawaterfront.org for up-to-date news about waterfront issues.
Do you know someone who would like to or should be receiving the FAW waterfront News Updates? If so, please go to www.alexandriawaterfront.org and click on the “Join Us” tab so that we can add their address to our email list.
Bert and Mark
Bert Ely and Mark Mueller, Co-chairs of Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront