Letter: Mixed Legacy

Letter: Mixed Legacy

To the Editor:

Bill Euille is a nice person, and he has often spoken kindly of my mother, former City Councilwoman Lois Walker, especially on issues of transportation. He ran on "One Alexandria," but it is not fair to say that once issues like the waterfront and Beauregard are decided that we are all in agreement now. These issues have divided Alexandria which is why there is a candidate from the west end, Kerry Donley, and a candidate who has strength throughout the city Allison Silberberg, challenging him.

I remember Mayor Euille saying on the night he won his second term that he did not intend to be mayor for life. Now he is asking for a fifth term. These have been prosperous years with the city able to build a new high school and a new police station. We have also built a new elementary school in Old Town, Jefferson Houston. We also built new two new fire stations, one with affordable housing on top, the mayor’s idea. These monuments to his tenure will serve Alexandrian's for years to come. And now it seems like we are on track to get a new Metro in Potomac Yard, so if Mayor Euille is not re-elected he will have a long list of accomplishments that happened on his watch.

But he also has to take the bad with the good. In the west end we have The Washington Headquarters Service, also known as BRAC, that the city greenlighted with a letter from our current City Manager Mark Jinks, saying they would be welcome to locate there, a decision discussed in an executive session of City Council that was not open to the public and that will cost the city $60 million in lost tax revenue in the next 20 years. The mayor also helped to approve redevelopment of 2,400 affordable apartments in the west end to a much denser development with only a set aside of 800 new affordable units. It is hard to be for affordable housing while at the same time allowing a large area where many working people in Alexandria live, be redeveloped.

We also let a ethanol trans-loading facility locate right next to Samuel Tucker School ignoring a letter from Norfolk Southern that they were going to build it. I was also at the meeting of very angry Cameron Station families when the ,ayor had to admit that the city missed this.

The mayor has one item left on his agenda, which is to put lights on the field at TC Williams. The mayor has tried three times unsuccessfully to build a lighted football stadium. Lights at TC breaks a promise to neighbors made first in 1965 and again in 2008 when the school was rebuilt. We need to keep a promise and find a different location, or not light the field.

Lastly, even if the waterfront development turns out great and is the economic engine it is supposed to be, I do not think that the mayor shepherded this through. The proponents were more like wolves fueled by developer money who hoped the sheep would scatter, which sometimes we did, but we are still here. Why? Because there were over 1,000 residents, who signed a petition against the re-zoning of three parcels of property in Old Town and took a legal case against the city to the Supreme Court of Virginia. What went wrong in the process? Was it the planning director refusing our petition during a city council meeting? Was it city staff tearing down our signs at 6 in the morning? Was it the total failure to consider any alternative? It was all of these.

It is also not time to turn back the clock to someone who has already been at the helm and whose policies Euille largely continued. During Kerry Donley's tenure we missed a chance to build a Metro much earlier and at a much lower cost. We also cannot build our way out of fiscal difficulties. Lastly, we should have someone who will put the city’s interest first, not their professional interest. Donley also voted to approve increased density at Marc Center in the lead up to BRAC.

If you want someone who cares about our elderly, our kids, those who use our rec-centers and pools, those who are hungry, Allison is the right person. She will also push for more open space and to restore funding to the open space fund. She has respect for our neighborhoods and to preserve what is important about Alexandria.

Boyd Walker