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Letter: BRAC Albatross

To the Editor:

On March 25, 2009, Mayor Euille, Council members Del Pepper, Paul Smedberg, Justin Wilson as well as Deputy City Manager Mark Jinks, appeared before my civic association to discuss the BRAC 133 development at the Mark Center, announced in September 2008. More than three years and multiple meetings and events later, including five candidate forums since this September, and I am still waiting for answers.

We have repeatedly been told that the city did not support the Mark Center site for the DoD relocation — this includes Mr. Lovain’s insistence that the “City advocated vociferously for Victory Center”, Councilwoman Pepper’s claim that “no one besides Duke Realty wanted DoD to go to that site”, and admissions of being “rolled” by DoD. Really. The City of Alexandria most emphatically did support the Mark Center site as the location for BRAC 133. Evidence, from the BRAC 133 Information Archive on the City website:

  • July 29, 2008: Two identical letters from Mayor Euille to James Turkel, chief of the Belvoir Integration Office; one is for the Victory Center, the other the Mark Center. “… the City of Alexandria strongly supports the proposal of the Duke Realty Corporation to relocate the Washington Headquarters Service to the Mark Center property in Alexandria, Virginia.”

  • May 5, 2008: Two identical letters from Mayor Euille, one to Senator Webb, the other Senator Warner. “… We are writing you to solicit your support in having the two potential WHS sites in Alexandria be given equal consideration to the GSA warehouse site in this competitive selection process … we are asking you to communicate to the DoD that all three finalist sites have your support, are viable, and deserve full and fair consideration ….”

So who “rolled” whom? Did the mayor, city staff and AEDP act without the full consent and knowledge of council?

If the city and council “vociferously” objected to the Mark Center site prior to its selection — where is the proof? Elected officials did nothing to prevent this West End disaster. In fact they lobbied for it and put out the welcome mat.

The city has initiated “What’s Next Alexandria?” How are we supposed to go forward with the BRAC albatross hanging around the neck of City Hall? Trust cannot be rebuilt with the community when we keep tripping over what has been swept under the rug.

Accountability is long overdue. Let it begin on Nov. 6.

Diane Costello