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Council Notebook

12 Days with Godspeed

When the Godspeed arrives in Alexandria this spring, its crew will spread out over several city parks for 12 days of 17th-century fun. The City Council voted Tuesday to abandon the city manager’s original proposal to contain the event in Founders Park, which many neighborhood residents said would ruin the park. The council also voted to abandon the 10-day compromise that would shorten the length of the event.

“I like the idea that it’s more spread out,” said Vice Mayor Redella S. 'Del' Pepper. “It will give us a better chance to market our restaurants and other businesses up and down King Street.”

The council’s revised plan for the Godspeed visit will use about 25 percent of Founders Park, part of the City Marina in front of the Torpedo Factory, the King Street Park next to Old Dominion Boat Club, part of the lower King Street unit block and Waterfront Park. No roads will be closed during the event, which is expected to attract 1,500 to 3,000 visitors in late May and early June. Councilwoman Joyce Woodson proposed returning the schedule to its original 12-day length.

“It doesn’t make any sense to me to have a takedown on a weekend,” she said. “It seems like a waste.”

Councilman Andrew Macdonald said that he heard from many residents who liked the 10-day schedule. But he was willing to go along with the 12-day proposal to facilitate scheduling for the event, which is already substantially late.

“I don’t want to sink the ship over this,” he said.

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Recycle — Or Else

Recycling could soon be mandatory in Alexandria, with penalties levied against those who don’t comply. The penalties would apply to businesses, homeowners associations, property managers and multi-family dwellings.

If the City Council approves of a proposed ordinance outlining the new program, those that generate more than 10 tons of solid waste will be subject to a class-three violation: $500 for the first offense, $1,000 for the second infraction and $1,500 for each subsequent violation. Those that generate fewer than 10 tons of solid waste will be subject to a class-five violation: $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second infraction and $100 for each subsequent violation. Garbage haulers who do not submit recycling data to the city will also be subject to a class-five violation. If approved, the new ordinance would take effect on July 1.

“This is a very good plan,” said Macdonald. “We’re trying to encourage people to do the right thing.”

The mandatory recycling program was designed to work toward the city’s goal of achieving a 35-percent recycling rate. Currently, the city’s rate is below 25 percent — which is a violation of state environmental mandates.

“For the city to attain the state minimum of 25 percent recycling requirement, approximately 7,600 additional tons of material will need to be recovered each year,” wrote City Manager Jim Hartmann in his recommendation for the ordinance. “Moreover, to meet the council’s goal to recover 35 percent of the waste stream, the city will need to recover more than 24,200 additional tons of recyclable materials each year.”

Residents who wish to speak on this matter can sign up for the Feb. 25 public hearing, when the council plans to vote on its final passage.

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Fairfax Envy

A recent proposal by Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald Connolly to discontinue automobile decal fees has Alexandria City Council members worried that Alexandrians might demand similar action at City Hall. During a discussion of the upcoming budget season, several council members made it clear that such a proposal wouldn’t work for Alexandria.

“Fairfax County has a heck of a lot more commercial property than we do,” said Mayor William D. Euille, adding that the city’s automobile decals bring $3 million of revenue to the city every year. “They have that luxury. We don’t.”

Woodson agreed that she would oppose doing away with the decal fees.

“It strikes me as very regressive,” she said. “It’s certainly not going to help the people who need help.”

Pepper added that in order to afford the proposal, Fairfax County would probably have to increase the county’s reliance on property taxpayers.

“I would not want us to go that route,” she said.