Week in Alexandria

Week in Alexandria

Justice for Trayvon?

The murder trial of Florida neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman may be hundreds of miles away, but emotions are running raw in Alexandria. Last weekend, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille organized a forum for people to talk about the high-profile murder trail that ended with the acquittal of Zimmerman for shooting unarmed teenager Travyon Martin.

The case has dominated cable news and created new racial divisions in America, a phenomenon similar to the murder trial of former sports superstar O.J. Simpson almost 20 years ago. This time, though, the roles were reversed, as prosecutors were fighting on behalf of the slain black teenager. Euille said he called the forum after hearing from many Alexandria citizens that they wanted to talk about the case but weren't sure how. So the mayor called leaders of Alexandria branch of the NAACP and organized a forum at the Charles Houston Recreation Center.

"It allowed folks to come together and reflect and have a dialogue," said Euille. "And it led to a desire to want to continue to have conversation and talk about others issues such as affordable housing and education."

The forum included Alfred Street Baptist Church pastor Howard-John Wesley and Alexandria NAACP president LaDonna Sanders as well as a handful of Alexandria lawyers and community leaders. Although the murder trail had no connections to the city, Euille said, it was important to give people an opportunity to express their feelings about the national dialogue the case has launched.

"I would say it was a great success," he said.

Pertpetually Public?

The project to transform a public park into a private sports complex may have hit a new snag — history.

This week, Alexandria Historical Society President Bill Dickinson suggested that the history of Hensley Park may prevent the public land from being used for private gain. Dickinson says the park is probably constructed on top of fill land owned by the city in the 1970s as part of the Eisenhower development project. That means it's likely the case that some portion of the funds received by the city from the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act in 1977 were probably used for the development of the park.

"This requires the land must remain in public recreational use in perpetuity unless the Secretary of Interior approves of a conversion and replacement lands are substituted," Dickinson wrote in a letter to Judy Noritake, chairwoman of the Alexandria Parks and Recreation Commission. "While conversions have been approved for these grants, they have been both rare and difficult."

City Attorney Jim Banks said he is conducting a title search, which he said should take about a week.

Hot Air in Washington

What's the solution to America's energy needs? U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8) says the answer may be blowing in the wind.

This week, the United States Department of the Interior announced its second competitive wind energy lease sale. The lease means more than 100,000 acres off of Virginia's coast will be made available for commercial wind energy leasing.

"The commonwealth is poised to be a leader in wind energy production and this brings us one step closer to realizing that goal," said Moran in a written statement. "Virginia will show the rest of the country that investment in renewable energy helps not only the environment, but also provides a boost to our economy and is a safer, cleaner alternative to opening up new areas to oil and gas drilling.”

Moran added that he plans to ensure the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has the resources to move forward on sale of the lease soon.