To the Editor:
Most people in Alexandria have been waiting years for the City to finish developing the Waterfront. It is a great asset, but it is disjointed and a mixture of townhomes, parks, offices, business, parks and warehouses with limited areas to walk along the Waterfront. The current path along the river has to detour to the streets in several places. The Waterfront plan creates a continuous path from the south end of Old Town to Daingerfield Island.
What to do with the 8.5 acres of warehouses on the 350 acres of waterfront was the crux of the debate in Alexandria. Of these 350 acres, 150 acres are currently parks.
In spring of 2011, after two years and over 100 public meetings and various events, the Alexandria Planning Commission passed the Waterfront plan by a 6 to 1 vote. The Waterfront Work Group approved the plan by 4 to 3. The City Council approved the plan by 5 to 2. The speakers at the public hearing were evenly divided on the issues, with many of the opponents asking for further delay, not disapproval. This was nearly a three-year process. There were numerous changes to the Waterfront Plan that surfaced through the process.
A lot of misinformation about the plan was circulated, accusing the plan of creating another National Harbor, saying the plan would create BRAC on the river. Children’s pictures were on a website holding signs that said don’t BRAC the waterfront. This misinformation was frightening to people, especially Old Towners. The approved plan will have the least traffic input on Old Town and will clean up the Waterfront.
I understand people who live in Old Town are frustrated with its parking situation. The Waterfront Plan will not change the parking situation in Old Town. As people continue to move to the Washington region, whether Leesburg, Bethesda or D.C., they will continue to come to Old Town for its great history, restaurant, quaint shops and ambiance. People living in Old Town should work with the City to find workable solutions for parking. It is not the Waterfront Plan that is the issue.
Alexandria has grown to be a world class city. As noted by the many young people that spoke for the City’s Waterfront Plan at the public hearing, this is why they moved here. As a 23-year resident, I feel the same.