Austin Flajser addresses the Waterfront Commission and Old Town residents.
Photo by Vernon Miles.
The jackhammers are loud, but Old Town residents can yell even louder. After years of fighting against the development of Carr Hospitality’s Indigo Hotel by residents of Alexandria’s Waterfront, there was little reason to think the opposition would suddenly quiet with construction underway. Representatives from Carr spoke at a special meeting of the Waterfront Commission on Sept. 8 specifically to address the concerns of local residents.
Austin Flajser, representing Carr on the Waterfront Commission, laid out the timeline for building development. 220 S. Union has been completely demolished. The jackhammer noises and vibrations local residents have reported to the city are part of the disposal of the concrete slab at the building’s base, a process that began on Thursday, Sept. 3.
Between Sept. 7 and 11, Flajser said slab removal will continue, as will work on electrical utilities on South Union and Duke streets. Between Sept. 14 and 18, Flajser said utility work will continue while the 210 Strant St. warehouse is demolished.
Flajser noted that these activities would be less disruptive than the jackhammers breaking up the slab, though since complaints about noise began before demolition had even started, Flajser couldn’t promise that residents wouldn’t still find the activities disruptful.
A majort complaint from local citizens centered around the use, or disuse, of approved haul routes. Flajser noted that the inbound route to the site was via Franklin Street, and the outbound was along Gibbon Street. Any drivers found deviating from these routes, Flajser said, are dismissed. However, many in the city say this discouragement has proven insufficient. Emilio Pundavela from the city’s Department of Project Implementation, reported that there have been three confirmed incidents so far of truck deviating from haul routes.
“Firing a driver from a hauling routes isn’t an effective sanction,” said Bert Ely, co-chair of the Friends of the Waterfront Commission, at the Waterfront Commission meeting. Ely called on the city to look into whether or not they could fine Carr for the deviations.
“People want a sanctioning process that has more teeth,” said Ely. “Residents want to see results.”
One of the more egregious violations was a Griffin Dewatering Truck that travelled down a cobblestone street directly past a prominent sign that stated that there were no trucks allowed. Pundavela noted that, of all the complaints received about trucks related to the project, this was the least understandable.
Flajser offered no defense of the error, and said that his company is as frustrated as the citizens when the trucks deviate from the approved paths.
“That driver is not allowed to return,” said Flajser. “All I can tell you is, we’re very frustrated by this. We are addressing it and we are trying to enforce it as best we can.”