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Opposition Heats Up over City's Plans for Founders Park

Council to be asked to amend current restrictions on special events.

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Eugene Loew, City of Alexandria Marketing, Special Events and Waterfront Operations, details updates to the waterfront at the Founders Park Community Association annual meeting May 10 at the Old Dominion Boat Club. Looking on is Jack Browand of the city's Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities, who also addressed the meeting.

The proposed amendment to allow special events in Founders Park took center stage at the May 10 annual meeting of the Founders Park Community Association.

“I can't believe the city is proposing this,” said one attendee who asked to remain anonymous. “There should be more respect for Ellen Pickering, Chuck Hamel and Patricia Golubin for saving this land. The park would not exist at all if it weren't for their efforts back in the '70s.”

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Founders Park Community Association member Howard Bergman voices his opposition to the city's proposal to allow special events of less than 500 to be held in the south end of Founders Park. Looking on are city representatives Eugene Loew and Jack Browand.

Held at the Old Dominion Boat Club, more than 85 people showed up to hear an update on the waterfront from Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities representative Jack Browand and Waterfront Operations director Eugene Loew.

Following a brief update on the status of park maintenance, Browand presented the city's plans to seek City Council approval to amend the current policy that restricts special events in Founders Park.

“We will be making a presentation to City Council to request that the current policy prohibiting special events in Founders Park be changed,” Browand said.

Browand detailed the proposed changes, which would allow special events of less than 500 people to be held in Founders Park in an area from approximately Quay Street to the southern end of the park. Restrictions would include barring the preparation and cooking of food onsite and tents exceeding 200 square feet. Additionally, no amusement park equipment or inflatables would be allowed.

“These events would fall into the category of 'awareness activities,'” Browand said.

Area residents Howard Bergman and Jim Walker spoke out in opposition to the proposed changes while Ruth McKenty and FPCA president Dave Schubert supported the city's request.

“The city has done a lot to support the park and we appreciate the efforts to explain their position,” Schubert said. “But FPCA will formally take the position of the majority of its members.”

While no official results have been released, the majority of attendees at the sometimes heated meeting clearly opposed the city's plans to allow special events in Founders Park.

“This is a historic community,” said another resident, who also praised noted environmentalist Pickering's efforts to prevent Founders Park from being developed into high rise residential buildings. “The city should have more respect for its citizens.”