Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Residents Deserve Better

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Residents Deserve Better

The Gazette Packet had a rich list of articles about our city government’s plans and activities in its Dec 6 – 12 edition. In this era of too many ways to communicate, it strikes me that the people we employ to perform city functions on our behalf are using Surprise-by-Gazette foremost to tell us what they’re doing.

Also intriguing is we hardly ever hear about advice rendered to our elected and employed public servants from the plethora of advisory bodies composed of citizens anxious to help make Alexandria better every way, every day. Some of these bodies surely produce valuable suggestions. What happens to them?

The exception is the one-man, self-appointed committee of Townsend Van Fleet. This retired military officer has single-handedly over the years produced more worthy suggestions and practical advice than all City Council members combined.

Thankfully, he uses the Gazette Packet and its cross town competitor, the Times, to render his advice all of which, despite assessing carefully, I have yet to find fault. But, like the many advisory boards, we taxpayers never learn what happens to Van Fleet’s sensible counsel. Could it be we have a city government that tolerates public input as a necessary nuisance because it knows what’s best?

Doubt me? Look no further than The Potomac Yard Metro. Few citizens know that a senior city employee included a falsehood in an important submittal to the Federal government. When the truth accidentally emerged, the city manager apologized, but no apology can eradicate that a deliberate falsehood was given to the Federal government and to the public, much less that it was tolerated by our City Council and city manager.

And fewer citizens know that the Metro site the city selected for the Potomac Yard will, unless moved, destroy fragile wetlands and cost more than an alternative site configured for no wetlands impact and at less cost. Adding insult to injury, the wetlands-destroying site also requires the National Park Service to negate a scenic easement issued in perpetuity to the American people.

We deserve better, much better.

Jimm Roberts