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Votes

Letter: Transparency on Potomac Yard

To the Editor:

In response to the Oct. 18 letters to the editor by Mr. Hertel and Mr. Van Horn about the Potomac Yard Metrorail station, I want to set the record straight. I want to reassure the public that the city has been — and will continue to be — open and transparent in its Potomac Yard Metrorail Station planning. First, City Council has not chosen a final site for the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station. In 2010, during a very public, nearly two-year process, a preliminary station site was identified after some two dozen public meetings, including those of a very large citizen and stakeholder advisory group (which included the National Park Service).

Second, in City Council’s subsequent adoption of the North Potomac Yard Small Area Plan, it was made clear in the text of the plan document that the future environmental review process would determine how the final Potomac Yard Metrorail station site decision to select a locally preferred alternative would be made. The environmental review process, which is prescribed by the federal National Environmental Policy Act, is being carefully followed. This process is thoroughly evaluating the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the three station local alternatives, as well as the no-build alternative. The city will hold public hearings in the first part of 2013 as it deliberates the selection of a locally preferred alternative.

Finally, in regard to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) related to Metrorail station developer contributions, (which was negotiated between the city staff and developer) the full text of that MOU was publicly available and subject to public hearing in June 2010 before the City Council approved it. It has been on the city’s web site for over two years. The developers agreed in the MOU to contribute $49 million if the station is built adjacent to North Potomac Yard, but if the station is built elsewhere (that is, not adjacent to North Potomac Yard) then it benefits the developers far less and they are not willing to contribute. If that occurs, then the amount of square feet allowed to be built in North Potomac Yard drops by 3.8 million square feet, because a transit connection that is not adjacent to North Potomac Yard would not be used by as many future North Potomac Yard residents and workers.

Those are the facts. I would urge those interested in the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station planning and environmental review process to visit alexandriava.gov/PotomacYard and www.potomacyardmetro.com to learn more.

Kerry Donley

Vice Mayor