by Amy Jackson
Alexandria, VA – (Editor’s note: This column was written on June 22. Some items discussed will occur when the paper is published.)
As a city, we do show a lot of spirit! And a lot of spark! Our city has overcome what could have been a damaging blow to our community and our economy. We relied on our resilience and perseverance to keep Alexandria moving forward, keeping it the best place to live, work, play, and raise a family.
Vibrancy is on display at every corner of our community: the unique neighborhoods from the waterfront to the West End, Van Dorn to the Valley, Carlyle to Del Ray, Rosemont to Arlandria, and everything in-between. There is no mistaking the pride of Alexandrians and that we are back and better than ever!
In June, we witnessed the return of our rainbow flags flanking Market Square for Pride Month, keeping our support for the LBGTQ+ community top of our minds and in our hearts. We also witnessed the grand opening of a renovated Freedom House in time to celebrate its rich history during the now-established Juneteeth national and local holiday. With all of this and so much more, we are a city united for the betterment of our people.
In this spirit, is it any wonder that the July 5th public hearing docket for Alexandria’s City Council is considering how to guide the winds of change in our city? Like most items before Council, the Planning Commission approves or denies master plans, zoning ordinances, and text amendments before moving along. The Planning Commission had big-ticket items on their June 23 agenda. Those items were placed on the Council’s June 28 and July 5 dockets for public discussion and motions. The docket the City Council will see soon at this link (until it moves up the ranks):
Spark and spirited discussion have already taken place around these items, generally due to the continued concern we all raise about affordable housing and contributions made by developers in units, money, public art, open space, etc. We need to be more vigilant in our approach to this issue, but I also don’t think a city-wide policy to enact bonus height is the way to go.
We have never been a “one size fits all” city. If anything, we have always embraced our unique neighborhoods, with their style and characteristics that lure you to each place, and the sense of community and sentimentality hold you there.
It’s down to the methodology of “attract and retain,” but many think differently about this phrase alone and what it means. How would you consider that phrase along “The Avenue” in Del Ray? Does it need a facelift, or is it vibrant the way it is? To be clear, we as a city would most likely not benefit from increasing our affordable housing in that area of our city if the Planning Commission and City Council approve a precedent-setting decision that is on the dockets in the next two weeks.
And the spirit of Alexandria then continues into July! For the second time since the throws of the pandemic, we will come together as a community on Saturday, July 9, for the City of Alexandria’s Annual Birthday Celebration! Established in 1749, Alexandria will enjoy hosting its 273rd birthday extravaganza (and celebrating America’s 246th birthday, too!) on July 9 with food, fun, and fireworks on the Potomac Waterfront.
As the Visit Alexandria website states, “The City of Alexandria celebrates its 273rd birthday and the USA’s 246th birthday on Saturday, July 9, with a performance by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra and a grand finale fireworks display at 9:30 p.m. Enjoy the return of the big birthday experience of years past with cupcakes, local vendors, live music and an extended runtime.”
I hope to see you near the stage on July 9 for cupcakes, if I don’t see you in City Council Chambers before!
For more information on Alexandria’s Birthday Celebration, please visit the City’s official website and the website of Visit Alexandria for more information:
Vice Mayor Amy Jackson, a career educator, was recently elected to her second term on the Alexandria City Council. Raised in Alexandria, she is the first ACHS (TCW) “Lady Titan” to hold a seat as an Alexandria City Councilwoman and now as Vice Mayor. She currently lives in the West End with her husband and two children who attend ACPS.