Honestly, I have grown so weary of the debate that it is difficult to open the local newspapers or to run into neighbors who want to discuss the future of Alexandria’s waterfront.
In June 2009, I was among the hundred or more citizens who turned out for the first of over 100 waterfront charettes and meetings to plan the re-design of Alexandria’s waterfront. Everyone at T. C. Williams High School that Saturday morning had an agenda: arts, economic development, historic preservation, recreational activities, transportation, and of course, status quo. These issues, and the people advocating them, were the same then as they are today.
Over a two-year period, the City Staff generated a consensus waterfront plan that reflects sensitivity for, and concessions to, each of these concerns. The Chamber of Commerce did not like everything about the City’s proposed plan; but in the end, it decided that it was a fair compromise that reflected the views from a cross-section of the City’s residents, businesses and interest groups. The Chamber decided to support the City’s plan so that progress and improvement could proceed.
Many months have passed since that time. A special task force was appointed by Mayor Euille to review the City’s plan. Despite the considerable volunteer time dedicated by the task force members, the hearings have been mostly divisive and has not been a positive, consensus-building process. Most recently, an alternate plan was proffered that has been found lacking by City Staff, as well and many residents and businesses, as not being economically feasible or legally defensible. The unrelenting debate continues to be waged among interested parties – many of whom, along with their pet concern (myself included), attended that first meeting 29 months ago.
The City’s waterfront plan fairly, though not entirely, addresses those concerns. That is what makes it a consensus plan, and that is why the plan is the best one that we can expect to produce as a community of divergent interests.
As citizens, we elected a City Council to lead and govern. Leadership and governance with respect to decisions on the waterfront are long overdue. The City Council has heard the exhaustive debate, and there is little more that can be said. It is time for the City Council to take a vote on the City’s proposed waterfront plan, and it is time to move on to other issues that are important to our City’s success and to the quality of life of our fellow citizens.
Andrew F. Palmieri
Alexandria Chamber of Commerce
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