The City of Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission and Alexandria Renew Enterprises (AlexRenew) have presented the 2018 Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award to Judy Noritake, a longtime former chair of Alexandria Park and Recreation Commission and an advocate of preserving open spaces in the city. The Pickering family joined in presenting the award to Noritake at the City’s annual Earth Day event on April 28.
“Judy Noritake’s dedication to preserving open spaces, service to the Alexandria Park and Recreation Commission, and commitment to sustainable community planning have cemented her place in history as an environmental leader in Alexandria,” said AlexRenew Chief Executive Officer Karen Pallansch. “In particular, her work to restore Four Mile Run and preserve nearby wetlands demonstrates her love for this community, as well as her vision for a sustainable future for Alexandria.”
A leading voice in the community for environmental conservation and natural resource protection for more than two decades, Noritake served on the Alexandria Park and Recreation Commission for 22 years, spending much of that time as chair. Her contributions to the City go well beyond the typical service of an advisory commissioner.
During her tenure, Noritake took a leading role in developing the Open Space Master Plan, helping guarantee the preservation of land and the creation of new parks in Alexandria, such as Potomac Yard Park, to meet open space goals. She played a critical role in the Jones Point Park renovation, the development of the Washington Street Urban Deck and Witter Fields, and the creation of the Citywide Parks Improvement Plan.
In 2001, Noritake also led the ongoing effort to restore Four Mile Run and its neighboring parkland, transforming the stream from a channel bordered by construction fill to a more natural system with clean adjacent wetlands and public amenities that now draws walkers, bikers, and families. She advocated to obtain federal funds that would support community planning for Four Mile Run restoration. With residents from Arlington County, she worked with the Alexandria City Council and Arlington County Board to convene a Joint Task Force to create a Master Plan for stream restoration and community development along Four Mile Run, which was adopted by both the City and the County in 2006. Since 2006, Noritake has chaired the Joint Task Force, shepherding the implementation of the Master Plan.
The Pickering Award honors the late Ellen Pickering and her lifelong dedication to City preservation and conservation. She helped create the Mount Vernon Trail between Alexandria and Washington, D.C., and urged the adoption of the City’s Open Space Plan. Pickering served on the Alexandria City Council, the Alexandria Sanitation Authority (now AlexRenew) Board of Directors, and numerous other boards and commissions.