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Council Signs Off on Strategic Plan

Grant sought for air quality improvement projects; council honors Talbert.

The City Council’s strategic plan for Alexandria is complete. “We began this process at our retreat last year and have finished the document,” said Vice Mayor Redella S. “Del” Pepper. “The input from citizens was invaluable — we have made it a short, concise document that is easy to read. We have added a table of contents so that people can easily find their way through it.

“It is a living document, however, and will change over time as the needs of the city change. I am very pleased with the final product and am very appreciative of all of the hard work of staff and other members of Council,” she said.

The document sets forth a strategic plan for the next year, the next five years and the next 15 years. “We have set goals and citizens can evaluate how we are doing,” said councilman Paul Smedberg.

The idea is to use the strategic plan as a kind of report card for Council. At the retreat in November, the plan will be reviewed and changes could be made. The document is available on the city’s web site at alexandriava.gov.

COUNCIL APPROVED the FY2006 grant request for federal/state funds from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program and the Regional Surface Transportation projects. These funds are available for regions in the country which are either not meeting the Clean Air Act regulations, like the Washington metropolitan region, or are nominally meeting the law, but are in a maintenance status, like Richmond. The funds must be used for activities which improve air quality and cannot be used to increase the capacity of roadways.

Richard Baier, the director of transportation and environmental services, presented the priority projects for which the city is requesting funding. “This is a very competitive process so we probably won’t get funding for all of them,” Baier said. “That’s why we have established priorities.”

In order of priority, the six projects are:

* Replacement of 25 WMATA bus shelters and the building of new shelters in new locations where feasible at a cost of $250,000 in RSTP funds;

* Reconfiguration of the King Street Metro station parking lot and bus lane at a cost of $100,000 in grant funds;

* Landmark Transit Center development at a cost of $300,000 in grant funds;

* A study and design for upgrades to the I395 Holmes Run bike trail at a cost of $250,000 in RSTP funds;

* $500,000 in state and federal funds to design and build a transit center at Bradlee and

* $290,000 from either source to supplement the operation of the Alexandria Transit store.

Mayor William D. Euille asked about the Transit store. “I would like to see a report on just how the store is doing,” he said. “It’s been open for some time so we should have some good information.”

Baier agreed. “We do have data from the operation of the store,” he said. “We will get you a report but it is doing very well.”

PEPPER ASKED about how the projects were chosen. “I would like to have known what other projects were considered,” she said.

Baier explained the process. “We met extensively with a number of different city departments and discussed projects at length. We believe that these six projects are the projects we should be proposing,” he said.

Councilman Andrew Macdonald expressed his support for the Holmes Run bike trail. “I am glad to see the bike trail on the list and hope that we will give high priority to enhancing our bike trails throughout the city,” he said.

Daniel Abramson, the president of the board of directors of the new Alexandria Housing Development Corporation, gave a report on the progress of the organization. “We have been very busy this summer,” Abramson said. “We have office space that has been donated by the Mark Winkler Company and Freddie Mac and Berkshire Mortgage have donated our office furniture and computers. We have also hired a new executive director for which board members are very grateful because we have all been very busy. She started work on Monday.”

The new executive director of AHDC is Martha Paschal, who was most recently the director of development for the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing. “She has extensive experience in the area of affordable housing and we were very pleased to hire her,” Abramson said.

The goal of AHDC is to preserve affordable housing in the City of Alexandria and to create new affordable rental and for sale housing in Alexandria. “I’d just like to say how thrilled I am with this opportunity to help this community in meeting its affordable housing needs, and how impressed I am with this Board of Directors, City Council and city staff, and how much I look forward to working with them and the neighborhoods to make good affordable housing for families in the low and moderate income brackets,” Paschal said.

AHDC is funded by the city, although the organization is not a city agency. The board is applying for nonprofit status from the IRS. They have also identified several potential development opportunities and expect to expand their five-member board soon. AHDC is located at 11900 N. Beauregard Street Suite 10.

COUNCIL PRESENTED a proclamation to Gloria Talbert, the mother of Sgt. Deforest Talbert, the first Alexandrian to die in Iraq.

“I got to know Dee when he was a sophomore at T. C. Williams and I am very grateful that he was a part of my life,” Euille said.

John Nunn, one of Talbert’s teachers and mentors expressed his hope to establish a scholarship in Dee’s name. “He is an excellent role model for young people because he took the right road and went to school when he so easily could have taken the wrong road,” Nunn said.

Gloria Talbert expressed her gratitude to the city for the proclamation and to God. “I thank God for my son and I thank the city for this recognition,” she said.

Councilman Ludwig Gaines announced that a scholarship in Dee Talbert’s name has been established through the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria. “We have already raised $1000 toward this scholarship and certainly plan to raise more,” Gaines said.

Talbert, a stand-out football player at T. C. Williams, was killed in Iraq on July 27, 2004. He was there as part of a West Virginia National Guard unit. He had joined the National Guard to help pay for college.