To the Editor:
Last week, Martin Tillett attacked me for mentioning (without any elaboration) in my prior letter that the MVCCA supports the proposed off-leash dog area (OLDA) at Westgrove Park. Mr. Tillett noted my numerous prior letters that have been critical of the MVCCA. What Mr. Tillett didn't mention that I have consistently supported the principle of the MVCCA and have reserved my criticism for its recent leadership and the way it typically conducts business. My position in these regards is unchanged. In the case of the debate concerning the proposed OLDA, in fact, the MVCCA operated in a manner closer to appropriate than usual.
The debate concerning the proposed OLDA was lengthy in the MVCCA's Environment & Recreation (E&R) Committee, encompassing several meetings. At those meetings, guests were invited to make presentations. Representatives of member communities announced the official support of their communities resulting from recorded votes. Various resolutions were proposed, debated, revised, and voted upon over many months. All of this culminated in a 10-3 vote of the E&R Committee in favor of the OLDA proposal which was later ratified by the MVCCA Council. Mr. Tillett had ample opportunity to express his opposition and he did so. To no avail.
Mr. Tillett signed his letter on behalf of "Friends of Quander Brook and Belle Haven Watersheds." There is no such legal entity in Virginia. I previously pointed out the epidemic we have in the Mount Vernon District in which civic activists claim to be representing formal organizations that do not exist. Perhaps the reason why Mr. Tillett's alleged organization is not incorporated in our Commonwealth is because, were that the case, under State law, they would be required to hold their meetings in public. They seem to think they are more effective meeting in secret and springing their views on the community at large without any opportunity for prior public debate.
They are wrong, and the same applies to the fictitious "Friends of Westgrove Park" about which I earlier wrote. They had absolutely no prior contact with OLDA proponents, and only surfaced one week before the Planning Commission hearing to express their opposition.
This is not how civic debates are supposed to be conducted. Unfortunately, this is all too typical of the way civic activity is conducted in Mount Vernon.
Thinking about the "Friends of Quander Brook," with friends like Mr. Tillett, who needs enemies? As a result of the "efforts" of Mr. Tillett and others, instead of the community enjoying the Kings Crossing Town Center, we now have a Wal-Mart store. The proposed developer of Kings Crossing agreed to pay for all of the storm water improvements on the site, to restore Quander Brook, to create a park behind Kings Crossing and to address traffic congestion at that location. Now, as a result of the Wal-Mart, the Shoppers' Food Warehouse across Richmond Highway in the Penn Daw Shopping Center closed and smaller merchants have followed it into oblivion.
What was once the promise of a beautiful town center has been replaced with a Wal-Mart and a ghost town across Richmond highway. Now we read Mr. Tillett's letters to the editor and columns in an Internet publication complaining about the state of development of Richmond Highway and all of the traffic and environmental issues there. Mr. Tillett, please look in a mirror. Thanks to you and those who share your concept of civic involvement, we taxpayers will have to fund the environmental, stormwater and transportation improvements a developer had agreed to fund.
Mr. Tillett says that approving the OLDA would reward criminal behavior. He is referring to the fact that dog owners who wish to walk their dogs off-leash at Westgrove Park have been issued citations by the Animal Control officers, which citations would stop upon establishment of the OLDA. These are citizens who are trying to make use of an essentially unused park in a manner that would meet an important recreational need and is environmentally friendly. Mr. Tillett, you should be ashamed of yourself for seeking to win your argument by disparaging these good citizens. I can only hope you will not succeed in doing for Westgrove Park what you did for Quander Brook.
H. Jay Spiegel