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Week in Alexandria

Settling Old Scores

It’s been almost 40 years since the Richard Nixon administration filed a series of lawsuits against property owners along the waterfront. The Interior Department argued in court that anything east of the 1791 boundary between Maryland and Virginia rightfully belonged to the District of Columbia, an effort to force closed industrial spaces to open to the public.

Most of the cases settled, leading to the creation of Oronoco Bay Park and Founders Park. Robinson Terminal promised to open part of its property when it redevelops its two locations flanking Old Town. But one defendant held out, fighting the federal government for four decades. The Old Dominion Boat Club was eventually successful, beating back Uncle Sam where others failed. Now the federal government has agreed to pay for four decades worth of legal fees.

“I won’t say the exact figure, but it was in the high six figures,” said Miles Holtzman, president of the Boat Club. “It was a vindication for us.”

Although the Boat Club won its case against the feds, it’s still trying to fend off Alexandria City Hall. Recommendation 3.69 of the waterfront plan calls for the creation of a new public plaza where the Old Dominion Boat Club’s parking lot currently exists. Planning Director Faroll Hamer once called the proposed new public plaza at the foot of King Street “the soul” of the waterfront plan, although city officials now say they have no immediate plans to act on the recommendation.

“It’s a long-range vision,” said City Attorney James Banks. “The city’s plan says that it would like to see a park there at some point, it doesn’t discuss how that’s going to happen.”

Seven-Year Sentence

United States District Court Judge James Cacheris is sending a 30-year-old illegal immigrant back to El Salvador — after he serves seven years in federal prison.

Court records show Melvin Eraldo Ramirez has a lengthy and violent criminal history, including convictions for theft, abduction, malicious wounding and assault of a law-enforcement official. On Sept. 13, 2001, he was convicted of attempting to distribute cocaine and eventually deported in 2003. Since then, he has been deported in 2005, 2007 and 2008. In February, Ramirez pled guilty to illegally returning to the United States once again.

“This lengthy prison sentence helps send the message that reentering the United States after being formally deported is a serious crime, particularly when that person is a convicted felon,” said Yvonne Evans, acting director of the Enforcement of Removal Operation’s Washington field office.

After completing seven years in an American prison, Ramirez will be deported once again, and authorities will be waiting to serve him with an arrest warrant in El Salvador accusing him of extortion.

New School Board Candidate

Add another candidate to the growing list of people running for the Alexandria School Board. This week, Kelly Carmichael Booz announced her candidacy for District B. Booz is currently director of civic education at the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier. Before that, she taught civics and government to middle and high school students from across the country and worked with teachers to develop curriculum at the Alexandria-based Close Up Foundation. She has also coached high school swimming at Falls Church High School and swimming at Hollin Meadows Swim and Tennis Club.

“We need a top-to-bottom review of our schools to build on what is working here and multiply the impact,” said Booz. “Alexandria should be leading educational performance results in Northern Virginia, not lagging.”

Elections officials are concerned about a potential lack of candidates, which could lead to write-in candidates elected to the School Board.