On June 27 Alexandria citizens and officials will once again get their chance to view what the National Park Service (NPS) has in mind for the development of Jones Point Park during a public information session at Lee Center from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
In a news release issued last Wednesday June 13 the NPS announced that they and the Federal Highway Administration will host "a public information meeting to announce release of the second draft of the Jones Point Park Environmental Assessment Report and the beginning of a 30-day public comment period."
This is the second such session of this nature in the long, arduous process to balance the desires of multiple constituencies. The first was held last September at which time the NPS announced their preference for Alternative 4 of the five design proposals for the park.
According to the news release, NPS' new preferred Alternative 4A, "features an access road that connects to a new cul-de-sac at the south end of South Royal Street and extends eastward to a 110-space parking area." It also will have a vehicular turnaround located just west of the Potomac River.
The cul-de-sac, perimeter barrier system, and landscape plantings, to be located just south of the turnaround, would be similar to previous Alternative 4. A tot-lot and 80 by 40 yard multi-use athletic field, oriented east/west, would be located north of the parking area on the north side of the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge inner loop span, the release explained.
A second 110 by 60-yard multi-use athletic field, oriented northwest/southwest, would be located south of the bridge's outer loop span in a similar location as the existing field.
"The fundamental change from the previous preferred alternative is to take the previous parking area on the north side of the bridge and make it into a small athletic field," said David Vela, superintendent, of the Park Services George Washington Memorial Parkway.
"Following the last public meeting we received a lot of comments indicating that there were not enough athletic fields in the area of Jones Point Park as well as facilities and opportunities for passive recreation. This plan, with a small field on the north side of the bridge and a regular size one on the south side helps us to address both passive and active recreational pursuits," he said.
"The parking area will be linear and closer to the river. We feel that way it will have less impact on the nearby neighborhoods," Vela explained.
"As for the wetlands and woodlands this plan should have no impact. We are taking advantage of those natural features to serve as buffers for the neighborhoods. It ensures resource protection and preserves both the DC markers and the lighthouse," he said.
When asked about parking under the new bridge, Vela said there had been no change to federal policy prohibiting such parking except under strict controls as outlined since the attacks of September 11, 2001.
"There are some options to this alternative, just as before. That is why we are allowing for another 30 -day comment period. We value those comments. All of this is designed to maximize public comment," he said.
"At this time we have no date for a final decision. What we like to do is analyze the public comments as soon as possible after the 30 day period," Vela said.
There will be no public testimony or comments, according to NPS. However, attendees and others can submit comments from June 28 until the close of business at 4:15 p.m. on July 30. The extra days on the comment period are to accommodate the July 4 holiday.
The EA will be available for review on the NPS Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/gwmp. Those wishing to make comments are urged to do so via the website or in writing to David Vela, Superintendent, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Turkey Run Park, McLean, VA 22101. Additional information is available by calling 703-289-2500.
Printed copies of the EA report will be available for public review at NPS/GWMP headquarters at Turkey Run Park and at the headquarters of Potomac Crossing Consultants, 2901 Eisenhower Avenue, Unit C, Alexandria. Other hard copies will be placed at:
Alexandria: Charles E. Beatley,Jr. Central Library; Kate Waller Barrett Branch; James M. Duncan Branch; and Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch. Fairfax County: Sherwood Regional Library; Martha Washington Library; and John Marshall Library.
At the June 27 meeting Vela will make a presentation covering the history of the park and the new preferred alternative. "Those attending will be permitted to ask questions but we will not be taking comments at that time," he stated. There will also be some static displays.