Alexandria Residents Invited to Tour Controversial Taylor Run Project This Weekend

Fauna: Acidic Seepage Swamp at Chinquapin Park in late spring. (Photo provided by R.H. Simmons)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The City of Alexandria is proposing stream restorations of Taylor Run and Strawberry Run, both through “Natural Channel Restoration” methods, a plan that involves the removal of a number of trees, fauna, and wetlands.

Citizens are questioning the plan as the project potentially harms the seepage swamp in Chinquapin Park. The surrounding neighborhood park also contains a rare seepage swamp that has a positive effect on the environment and a number of rare fauna.

The Environmental Council of Alexandria, in cooperation with community associations, will be hosting guided tours on Saturday, September 12 at Chinquapin Park to help determine what could be removed or changed. Tours will run every 15 minutes between 10 a.m. and noon. They will start at the King Street entrance to Forest Park, in front of the Aquatic Center.

Visitors are asked to park in the lot next to the tennis courts and walk to the park entrance. The tours will last approximately 25 minutes. They will be limited to 10 people and masks are required. Long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and boots are recommended.

Andrew MacDonald, geologist and member of the Environmental Council of Alexandria, told The Zebra, “We’re working with members of the community that have been spearheading this effort like Russell Bailey and the purpose of the walk is to show people what’s in danger and what can we do differently.”

The proposed Taylor Run project covers approximately 1,900 feet of stream close to the Chinquapin Recreation Center and in Chinquapin and Forest Parks. The aim of the project is to reduce pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Chinquapin Park (orange) and Forest Park (yellow). Photo provided by the City of Alexandria via Google Maps.

The Taylor Run Stream Restoration website states that “The stream corridor is highly disturbed with severe erosion in various locations along the stream with evidence of downcutting and widening at various locations…In keeping with its dedication to improve water quality in the Chesapeake Bay, the City is proposing to use environmentally conscious engineering practices that mimic nature to reconstruct stream banks, encourage native plant growth, and moderate/diminish the impact of streamflow during high-precipitation events.”

The community has asked about the number of trees that will be destroyed because the trees assist in the reduction of flooding and help clean the environment. Local environmentalists also question the stream’s pollution-causing content and the need to change an area that may not need restoration.

“It’s not even clear how many trees are going to be cut but appears to be a lot but we haven’t seen all the details yet,” MacDonald said. “What we have seen has people concerned because of the destruction of native trees, plants, and wetlands.

“The community is rightly concerned and our goal is to see if we can alter the city’s plan without destroying the native habitat.”

The total cost for the Taylor Run Project is estimated at $4.5 million. The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) allotted $2.255 million. The Strawberry Run project is estimated at $1.6 million, and half of that project’s funding is derived from VDEQ grants.

To join a tour, send an email with your preferred start time and number of people attending to rrussell.bailey@gmail.com.

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