Mount Vernon To the Editor:
Mary Jo Detweiler's letter [“Nothing Secret about Friends Group”] in last week's Gazette characterized my letters as "rants." Since my letters typically provide documented facts, they are hardly "rants." Notably Ms. Detweiler's letter disagreed with my allegation that the so-called "Friends of Westgrove Park" (FOWP) is a secret organization and, in so doing, provided an e-mail address permitting readers to be added to a list of those who receive their "occasional communications." I am unaware of this information being previously offered the general public. Apparently, my "rant" served a useful purpose. If you are just curious and want to do nothing more than sign up to monitor FOWP's activities, you should specify in your e-mail that FOWP should not count you as a supporter.
Ms. Detweiler speculated that her advocacy against the Off-Leash Dog Area (OLDA) "annoy[s]" me. I defend Ms. Detweiler's right to state her personal opinion. What does annoy me and others is her persistent effort to convey the false impression that her views are shared by a significant percentage of Mount Vernon residents. The FOWP name was clearly chosen to suggest an affiliation with Westgrove Park. The Fairfax County Park Authority (FCPA) does not recognize such affiliation. This is true even though FCPA has no specific criteria to so recognize an organization. A FCPA official informed me that they apply "common sense" to such determinations. Common sense has led them to conclude (correctly) that FOWP should not be so recognized.
Ms. Detweiler also took issue with my report on my use of a sound meter at the OLDA. Ms. Detweiler stated that "the sound [from dogs in the OLDA] flows down the hill and across the property line." What hill? The elevation of Westgrove Park closest to River Towers is about the same as that of the River Towers property. Moreover, while sound does radiate outwardly from its source, sound intensity diminishes as the square of the distance. Imagine you are within a building next to the end zone of a football field. You look to the opposite end zone which abuts the end zone of another football field. At the far end zone of the second football field, a dog is barking. Is this a disturbance worth complaining about? This is the distance from the OLDA to the nearest River Towers building. My prior letter pointed out, with photographic evidence, that only 14 windows of one River Towers building are visible from the OLDA. The allegation of a significant sound disturbance requiring remediation is pure fiction.
Each of us in the Mount Vernon community lives with unwanted disturbances. I live across the street from my community's pool and tennis courts. I often hear the sounds of tennis balls being hit late into the evening. I wouldn't think to complain and demand that the courts be closed at dusk, particularly since they were there when my house was built. Ms. Detweiler's solution at Westgrove Park? In the same letter, she inconsistently (1) expresses the desire to "maintain" the alleged "wildlife corridor between Mt. Vernon District Park and Dyke Marsh," and (2) requests installation of "sound barriers." If there were, in fact, the "wildlife corridor" Ms. Detweiler claims exists, wouldn't "sound barriers" block it? In fact, as pointed out in previous letters, there is no such wildlife corridor. Between Mount Vernon District Park and Dyke Marsh the following barriers to such a wildlife corridor exist: The Mount Vernon District Park bike path, Fort Hunt Road, the fence surrounding Westgrove Park, the four-lane George Washington Parkway and its bike path. The parkway and Fort Hunt Road aren't part of a "wildlife corridor." Rather, they are animal "killing fields" as evidenced by numerous dead animal carcasses frequently found there.
The Master Plan for Westgrove Park should include the OLDA as a permanent feature. This is what the vast majority of Mount Vernon residents want.
H. Jay Spiegel