Those Were the Days

Recent hoopla about skateboarding ["Arlington Teens Can't Wait to Skate," Extra, Aug. 19] neglects to mention that Alexandria had a skateboard park on Wheeler Avenue in the 1970s. It was a private enterprise, reportedly the brainchild of a class project at George Washington University.

Adolescent boys spent many careening times there, honing their skills for swimming pools, drainpipes and other area locations that shall remain nameless. (One of them, I discovered later, was the HOV lane on Interstate 395, which was, blessedly, not in use.)

The best adventure, though, was when my son and a friend skateboarded into Washington and climbed a tree to see the Pope celebrate Mass on the Mall.

Lee Tupman

Alexandria

Get Property Tax Relief

Over the past few years, the rapid rise in property values throughout the Washington area and the resulting increase in local real estate taxes have been well documented by the local media. This trend has placed considerable financial stress on some property owners in our community with fixed or slowly rising incomes. The Alexandria City Council is sensitive to this problem. Last spring, the City Council established a pilot program to provide targeted real estate tax relief to keep homeownership in the city affordable. The city's Affordable Homeownership Preservation Program (AHOP) provides qualified applicants with a $250 tax credit to be applied directly to their real estate tax bill due by Nov. 15.

To qualify, the property for which the grant is being sought must have an assessed value of less than $362,000. Also, the applicant's total adjusted gross household income for 2003 must have been less than $61,000 and total household assets (excluding the value of the home, retirement plan savings and personal-use vehicles) may not have exceeded $50,000 as of Dec. 31, 2003.

The Sept. 1 deadline to apply for this program is quickly approaching. To date, less then 10 percent of the estimated number of eligible residents have applied. The process to apply for this $250 grant is quite easy and the requirements are not too restrictive. Applications and additional information on AHOP are available on the city's Web site at www.alexandriava.gov/finance/AHOP.html, or they may be obtained by contacting the Taxpayer Services Branch at 703-838-4570.

Mayor William D. Euille

Alexandria