Should the City of Alexandria annex a small portion part of Fairfax County, a set of neighborhoods south of the city, including Huntington, New Alexandria, Penn Daw and Groveton?
I’m guessing such an action won’t happen anytime soon and maybe never. The thought, however, did occur to me a while back.
Needing some papers held by the University of Virginia’s Special Collections, they informed me to go to the nearest library and ask for Inter Library Loan service.
I jumped into my car, took the quick trip to Old Town and after taking my morning walk there, I walked into the Queen Street library.
The Local History/Special Collections section there is a treasure. But as it turns out, they only provide the ILL service for city residents and city employees. We live in Fairfax County with an Alexandria address. The library, however, does not have a reciprocal agreement with Fairfax County. They told me to check with their Fairfax County counterpart located in the city of Fairfax. I told the staff I completely understood.
As a researcher whose back and eyes would qualify me for a Microfiche Reader Purple Heart, I should have just manned up and not fussed about it.
I couldn’t help but think, however, about the stark contrast between going to the Alexandria library for this service and going to Fairfax County’s Special Collections, located in the City of Fairfax, the county seat. Google map shows the former as being 20 miles away. Alexandria’s Queen Street location is just 4.2. Bus service from our house in Groveton to Queen Street in Old Town is about 30 minutes. I don’t even want to think about what it would be to Fairfax City and back.
It’s not just the administrative aspect of this question. Historically, this part of Fairfax County on both sides of the upper part of Richmond Highway — is connected to Alexandria. Telegraph Road runs along the same path as used by colonial travelers making their way to Alexandria. George Washington rode his horse along the Potomac Path, what we now call the Richmond Highway.
West Grove, the family's ancestral home that once overlooked Alexandria south of Great Hunting Creek, was closely connected with Alexandria.
Benjamin Barton, a famed silversmith who lived and worked in Alexandria, built his retirement home on Beacon Hill (Groveton). He called it "City View" because it held commanding views of Alexandria.
Spring Bank (Penn Daw) rose up in the 1820s after the city built a bridge that connected the seaport with this portion of Fairfax County. The farmers in Groveton sold their products in Alexandria.
Commercially, this part of Fairfax County (about two miles wide by two miles long), let’s call it “SoAx,” is tied to Alexandria. When we walk into the Giant grocery store in Groveton, we see a sign that says, “Welcome to Alexandria.” They see Alexandria t-shirts. Lowe’s, Target and others claim Alexandria as their location and are connected to the city.
Politically, the two are tied together. SoAx sits in the middle of the Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District, which runs from Mount Vernon to Alexandria and Arlington.
Transportation-wise, the City of Alexandria and SoAx are connected not only by Metro, Route 1, Telegraph Road and the GW Parkway, but also by planning issues and needs. Regarding those needs, the most glaring paradox in Southeast Fairfax County is the amount of Capital Bike Share stations - zero.
In terms of advertising and media coverage, the two are linked. For proof, open up any issue of the Mount Vernon Gazette.
Geographically, SoAx would fit right in. If you put the needle of a drawing compass on Alexandria’s City Hall and draw a semi circle, SoAx dovetails almost perfectly with the existing boundaries of Alexandria.
Although it has not taken place in quite a while, annexation is nothing new in Alexandria. Basically everything west of the metro tracks and north of Slater’s Lane is annexed land from either Arlington County or Fairfax County. In the 1950s’s the Alexandria CIty Council wanted to annex up to Groveton.
All good points we feel, but truth be told, another round of annexation of Fairfax County is closer to a pipe dream than becoming a reality.
Meanwhile I will keep saying we live in Alexandria, and hope one day I can get those library services in the city that is close to my heart and much, much closer than the city of Fairfax.