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Letter: Density Dominoes

To the Editor:

What I’ve learned from the Waterfront contretemps is our elected and appointed city officials are playing a game of density dominoes.

The sequence seems to be: the city needs money, so it contrives to thwart the majority of its residents by enabling more density along the waterfront. Next, developers provide additional density by placing more structures on the few remaining open spaces, or they alter existing structures to accommodate greater occupancy. The result is increased density providing more tax revenue for the city. This much I understand.

What I do not understand is when this game will end. At some point, just as a glass can hold only so much fluid, or as a theater can hold only so many patrons, the city will reach capacity. Alexandria’s boundaries are fixed; so too are our roads. Exactly how many more inhabitants are our city officials seeking?

Whatever the number, surely they have established a cap on the number of inhabitants Alexandria could reasonably accommodate before it becomes too congested, even for cut through commuters? In other words, when does Alexandria achieve maximum desired density?

A better question is why are they playing density dominos at all? If the overarching goal is revenue to redress Waterfront flooding, then why don’t they go to the same pool of funds they draw from to pay for other public works projects (e. g., the new high school, the new police station, the new athletic field, etc)?

Since greater density results in more traffic, loss of open spaces, greater human congestion, all of which equate to a less livable city, lost charm and greater stress, it would seem Alexandria has already reached its optimal density. If so, then our city officials should rejoice.

By keeping density constant, it will make their planning and budgeting simpler. It would also make close-in Alexandria homes more desirable. This will trigger improved property values that will, in turn, effortlessly generate more tax revenue, which is what our city officials are seeking in the first place. They don’t have to play density dominoes after all.

Jim Roberts

Alexandria