Council Notebook

Council Notebook

<hr><b>Goodbye, ‘Fun Side’</b>

It’s a brand that’s well known in the Washington metropolitan area: Alexandria is the fun side of the Potomac. The city’s marketing department has adopted the theme as central to its mission — even using as the organization’s Web site address. But the slogan may have outlived its usefulness.

With Maryland’s new National Harbor on the horizon, Alexandria’s marketing minds are trying to figure out how to capitalize on development by organizing water taxis across the river, increasing public restroom availability and generally creating a public-relations buzz about the joys of Old Town. Ultimately, though, the National Harbor may offer a lot of fun — perhaps, one could easily argue, on the fun side of the Potomac. So many people are starting to wonder if “fun” is the key to get people across the river.

“I think it’s time to come up with a new theme,” said Mayor <b> Bill Euille</b> after a meeting with members of the Alexandria Convention and Visitors Association on Tuesday. “But it was fun while it lasted.”

<hr><b>Fair-weather Leaders</b>

Alexandria’s city charter gives the City Council several powers, everything from levying taxes to approving future development. But controlling the weather? Although it’s not listed in the charter, City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday night declaring that Dec. 31 will be a “fair weather” day throughout the city.

“I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the city of Alexandria to be affixed,” said Mayor Euille with a grin.

Not so fast, said Councilman <b>Rob Krupicka</b>.

Krupicka told his colleagues that he would reluctantly support the proclamation — even thought he had a serious objection.

“As a parliamentary point of order, I think that anything we pass on the weather has to be an ordinance not a resolution,” said Krupicka. “If the fair weather doesn’t come to fruition, I think this will be the reason why.”

<hr><b>Dilemma of Objectors</b>

In the first week of May, the city government plans to spay a pesticide called Bacillus thuringiensis in the Beverley Hills neighborhood. Known as Bt, it's a naturally occurring bacterium common in soils throughout the world. Several strains can infect and kill insects According to a presentation by City Arborist <b>John Noelle</b> during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the aerial application would include 319 properties over 75 acres in the northeast neighborhood. He said that a 200-foot buffer zone would have to be created for any resident or property owner who objected to the insect-killing bacteria. But too many objectors could destroy the program.

“If we have objectors at more than three locations, the program will become impractical and expensive,” said Noelle. “That’s the dilemma of the objectors.”

The city has been spraying B.t. since 1988, when hundreds of trees were experiencing serious damage from gypsy moth infestation. Noelle assured council members that the pesticide was safe enough to be sprayed onto vegetables, and that it had no known effect on children or pets. Neighbors will get their chance to express their opinions on the matter on Jan. 20, when the City Council will hold a public hearing on the spraying plan.

<hr><b>After the Soccer Fields</b>

City Hall is one of Alexandria’s architectural gems, and it’s one of the most photographed landmarks in Old Town. But according to Mayor Euille, it’s nothing compared to the City Hall in Caen. The mayor recently returned from Alexandria’s sister city in France, where he was impressed by the 11th century building known as “Abbaye-aux-Hommes,” which now serves as the Caen’s City Hall.

“<b>William the Conqueror</b> is buried there, if that gives you any indication of how old the building is” said <b>Rose Boyd</b>, the city’s director of citizen assistance, who accompanied the mayor on the international trip.

After a discussion of the need for more sports fields in Alexandria, Euille said that one day Alexandria would have a building as grand as Abbaye-aux-Hommes — “just as soon as we build all those soccer fields.”