To the Editor:
High-rise development on this waterfront parcel was staved off in 1979 as the result of concerted efforts by nearby residents and Ellen Pickering, among others. Since that time Founders Park Community Association (FPCA) members have been proactive stewards of this very popular and highly used city park. Each year, as a participant in the state’s Adopt-A-Park initiative, the Association ploughs earned program funds back into the park for upgrades and ascetic improvements, such as wrought-iron fencing for the flowerbeds.
Largely through FPCA efforts, this park contains a volleyball court and a large dog exercise area, while the rest is open, inviting and available to many: all Alexandria residents and tourists from around the world. It was decided early on that the park would remain passive so as many family-size gatherings as possible could share this space. It would not be available for events, such as the large Red Cross Festival, originally held there, whose damage closed the park for many days while it was being repaired.
Now apparently some on city staff think it would be a good idea to change this policy — a policy that has been so successful — and allow events. This is wrong, and it speaks to a slippery slope that will forever change the bucolic greenway of this park to a noisy and crowded place with attendant problems. These events would take up too much park space outside the dog exercise area and will be off putting for those seeking a quiet, green refuge. This goes against good public policy that shows how important it is for urban areas to provide safe and unreserved havens for its residents and visitors. While there might be good intentions behind this proposed change, it should be dismissed because of many unintended consequences, including parking shortage, street congestion, public servants diverted to patrol large event groups, sod and sprinkler damage, etc.
All this said, the important message here is that we residents of Alexandria must protect not just Founders Park, but all our city parks because they are scarce and valuable resources.