To the Editor:
Waterfront Commission member Dennis Auld’s letter [“Two Are Too Old Town-Centric,” Oct. 1-7] was yet another partisan attack all to common since Alexandria became a one-party city in 2012.
As a sitting member of the Waterfront Commission he has taken an oath to be impartial and I am absolutely shocked he would attack any citizen for providing input to the city’s planning process. Particularly in light of the fact that Wood and Van Fleet live in the neighborhood being impacted while he does not. The city process not only called for but actively sought citizen input.
Mr. Auld has “spun” the details of the alternative plan (which he interestingly calls “the opposition’s alternative plan”) submitted by an ad hoc group of citizens developed to counter what they felt was an overly dense, out-of-place plan that favored developers. The city staff neither assisted nor otherwise supported this honest but amateur attempt because it interfered with the city’s developer supported plan. The alternative plan addressed the highest citizen priorities, identified by public poll, of park enhancement, construction of a continuous riverfront promenade and flood mitigation while the proposed Small Area Waterfront Plan did not. During review, the city staff and not the citizens added a large and costly museum and cultural center to the plan submitted, making it cost prohibitive. The absence of dialog between the staff and citizens during this period was very telling.
Mr. Auld admonishes Wood and Van Fleet for using the city established process to review the recommended demolition of a building they felt had historical significance. Once gone, that building is gone forever despite it’s history. I contend such proposed actions deserve a second look. That is not obstructionism; it’s good judgment … measure twice, cut once, as wise tradesmen would say.
As for the charge that Wood and Van Fleet are Old Town centric … their resumes speak for themselves … dedicated public servants as evidenced by their numerous contributions in both official and un-official capacities throughout the City of Alexandria.
We are where we are in Alexandria because of one party politics ... that is dangerous and can stifle and even shut down the examination of issues through different lenses. Connie Ring, former city council member recently said, “Open and energetic debate with diversity of ideas reflective of the interests and wishes of the citizens of our city can return.”
In my opinion, we need to leave partisan politics behind or we will not be able to avoid the disaster headed right at us. Partisan politics are the poison pill of democracy.