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Walker Kicks Off Council Campaign at Red Rocks

Democrat Boyd Walker talks historical preservation and transportation planning at his campaign kickoff.

City Council candidate Boyd Walker (D) reiterated his opposition to rezone Alexandria’s waterfront and spoke of his commitment to historical preservation at his campaign kickoff Monday at in Old Town.

With a “Don’t Rezone the Waterfront!” poster taped to the wall next to his campaign banner, Walker spoke of his hope to “save” several sites in Old Town.

“I still feel we can save West’s Point from development,” Walker said in regards to a site next to that at different times was occupied by warehouses and a wharf. George Washington departed from the point to Philadelphia in 1789, according to the .

The site was discussed , which analyzed the city’s redevelopment plan.

“This is a major important site in our nation’s history,” Walker said.

Walker, a 1986 graduate of , was a cofounder of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan but left the group when he decided to run for council.

At a council meeting in February, Walker called the city’s waterfront redevelopment plan “the wrong plan for lifetimes to come.”

Walker said Monday he thinks a museum should be part of any development plan, making the waterfront area a place to visit “and not just a place for restaurants.”

Beyond the waterfront, Walker said he’d like to “save” the Old Town Theater and the Carver Nursery School by making them historical sites. He said he believes the city could purchase the theater for $3 million and the Carver Nursery School for $675,000.

He said he’d like to see the Old Town Theater remain a theater.

“Movie theaters and live theater is very important,” he said. “The arts are very important.”

Walker advocated the creation of a streetcar system all over the city. He mentioned the city’s plans for bus rapid transit down a section of Route 1 with hopes for eventual conversion to streetcar. He’d like to see a bigger network. 

“It’s an attractive way to move people. … It’s clean, it gets people out of their car and it builds quality of life around it,” said Walker, adding that the H Street corridor in Washington, D.C., is “a good example" of what streetcars can do to a community.

The H Street line has been in the works since 2003 and the District hopes to begin operation of the streetcar in the summer of 2013. In the last several years, trendy restaurants and nightspots have popped up in what was once a blighted D.C. neighborhood.

Walker said good transportation planning was something his mother worked toward when she was a member of council from 1994 to 2000.

Lois Walker introduced her son at his campaign kickoff, saying she didn’t always agree with him on certain issues but never doubted his commitment.

“I admire him for standing up for what he believes,” Lois Walker said.

Boyd Walker is one of 12 Democrats running for city council. Six will be selected for the General Election ballot in a primary scheduled for June 12.

Click here for more Patch coverage of the 2012 Election, "like" Del Ray Patch and Old Town Alexandria Patch on Facebook and follow @delraypatch and @alexandriapatch on Twitter.

Mike Urena March 21, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Robinson Terminal North is a major important site in our nation's history? Seriously? Should we declare every place George Washington ever set foot worthy of historic preservation. I'm sure that's what he'd want given how big a supporter of royalty he was.
matt tallmerq March 21, 2012 at 08:39 PM
I notice that Mr. Walker suggests buying the Old Town Theatre building for $3 million. Since the City is close to its bond limit, I would like to know (1) where he plans to bond out for that purchase; if so (2) what would he eliminate from the current CIP. If he plans to use cash capital, what programs would he defund or cut? Or would he hike taxp rates to fund a private enterprise (which presumably the theatre would be)?
Boyd Walker March 21, 2012 at 08:43 PM
I have heard today that the Old Town Theater might be taken over by the owner of Cinema and Draght House in Arlington. I would still hope that the City would consider buying the American Legion building for 675,000. I am opposed to the 8.1 million of improvements at the King St. Metro, 2.2 million of which would be city money. I have also called for a moratorium on consultants, which would then include not sepnding 350,000 for a consultant on the Gen On site. by working with the communnity and current city staff we can engage citizens and come up with a plan. i will propose other budget cuts in the coming months as well, but I also spoke up about the salary of the city manager, who has now hired a chief of staff. I had previously recommended retaining the acting city manager.
Jon Rosenbaum March 21, 2012 at 09:57 PM
And street cars? How are you going to pay for them? I like Boyd, but he is becoming the Newt of Alexandria. His visions are expensive and impractical for the most part.
AKC March 21, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Del Ray DOES NOT need the inane trolleys. Traffic on Mt. Vernon is bad enough already. It's absolutely INSANE that in this time of limited funds Alexandria is expanding cush projects like the trolley. Put that half million towards park purchases/ park rehab (like the Duncan Avenue playground that currently has THREE BROKEN play structures) before creating new projects. Just how out of touch are the current council members? Doesn't Krupicka have kids and live in Del Ray? Why is he supporting new programs before taking care of existing playgrounds? Time to be voted out.
Dan Clark March 22, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Boyd - sorry I couldn't make your kickoff. Did you read from your blog? There was such great stuff in there. I'm sure it would inspire voters with your vision of leadership.
lynnhampton March 22, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Boyd vision of Council members need more pay, need an office at city hall, and need money to travel to conferences is out of touch. We are a city manager form of government, not a ward system like DC.
Katy Cannady March 22, 2012 at 01:06 PM
The West Point site that Boyd mentioned predates George Washington by many years. One of the founders of the city of Alexandria, Hugh West established a tobbaco inspection station there before 1739. At that point tobacco was king in what would become Northern Virginia. Soon a tavern was added near the tobacco inspection station and a ferry crossed over to the Maryland side there. It would have been a good thing if the waterfront plan had proposed at least enough public space there to tell that story. It did not. By the way, no less a personage than Councilman Rob Krupicka said during a recent Tuesday meeting of City Council that the salaries of Councilmembers and their aides should be raised. Certainly the city manager manages the city, but as a long serving elected official like Mr. Krupicka knows, the time demands on Council members have expanded greatly. Many good people can't take the time they would otherwise spend on their professional careers to serve in exchange for a token salary of less than $30,000 for everyone except the mayor who earns $30,000.
Mike Urena March 22, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Katy, I read the reports on the city's website too: http://alexandriava.gov/uploadedfiles/historic/info/history/OHAHistoryWFFirstWharf.pdf The fact that Hugh West founded this site in 1739 does NOT make it a "major important site in our nation's history." That's just absurd.
Justin Wilson March 22, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Boyd--You were at the Transportation Commission's March hearing, I'm not sure why you are citing numbers relating to the King Street Metro project that you know are incorrect. As you know, the original proposal was $8.1 million, but due to feedback by the Transportation Commission at its December meeting, the City Manager went back to the drawing board and reduced the costs to $6.9 million ($4.75 million of grants CMAQ/RSTP and $2.2 million of local funds). That was the version approved by the Transportation Commission. Also, I'm sure you also realize that the $2.2 million of local funds were generated by the 2.2 cent real estate tax increase for Transportation last year--and thus would not be available for use to acquire the theater or the American Legion building. If I recall, during the public hearing in March, you cited a number of ways you felt the Commission should GROW the King Street Metro efforts (reconfiguration of the King Street/Diagonal intersection, new brick paving, etc)--not ways to reduce the cost. If you have ways to DECREASE the cost, please let me know.
Katy Cannady March 22, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Mike, you and I view American history and what is important differently. I got my information about West Point from Ted Pulliam's excellent book, Historic Alexandria, an Illustrated History. He just describes the site and makes no claims for its importance. However, Hugh West's site was the incubus for our city as a major colonial port. General Braddock launched his campaign in the French and Indian War from Alexandria, where he had earlier landed his supplies and many of his Britsh troops. While he was here, Braddock added a colonial militia commanded by George Washington to his army. After Braddock's terrible defeat in Pennsylvania, it was Washington who organized the retreat of what was left of Braddock's army. His reputation as a military commander grew from that episode. It had a lot to do with his being the commander of our Revoluntary Army. Without that train of events, our world here in Northern Virginia might be very different. We might not be living very near the nation's capitol for one thing.
Mike Urena March 22, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Katy, with all due respect I don't need the lecture on the French and Indian War. Alexandria's role in it was marginal - a footnote at best. What is historic about General Braddock's campaign was his failure to secure Fort Duquense and his subsequent rout at the battle of the Monongahela River. Those places should be appropriately memorialized. And General Braddock did not launch his campaign from Alexandria he merely arrived there in 1755. It was in effect his port of entry into the New World. He then needed to select an appropriate location to organize his forces before departing on his expediton. That location was Fort Cumberland in Maryland. Most importantly, from the vantage point of military history, and really American history, what makes Braddock's defeat notable was the defeat of a conventional, regular army at the hands of an irregular force. And I know this is heretical to say, but founding father though he was, George Washington's reputation as a military commander was not a good one though to that date his limitations had not yet been revealed. That said this isn't an argument about history, at least from my perspective, but rather how people have abused and hijacked history, Old Town Alexandria's to be specific, in order to advocate for their preferred policy positions on issues like the Waterfront.
Edgar Warfield March 22, 2012 at 07:52 PM
This 'ol Democrat finds this debate about history -- and what it says about Alexandria's view of itself vs. the world's view of us in Alexandria -- fascinating. Mr. Urena's right -- we were something of a footnote in the French and Indian War. So then why do we play it up so much? Well, it seems to me we're stuck doing it. Our "history" (at least what we like to tell visitors) really follows our historic preervation. We preserved Old Town and made it a beautiful place for people to come see -- and when they did, their first question was: well, what happened here -- why is this so important that you want to keep it the way it was? Answering them that we like old, beautiful buildings wasn't enough, so we started digging out the old stories -- everything from George Washington helping put out the fire, to the Female Stranger, to the Marshall House Incident (although arguably that was our greatest single day on the national stage, so maybe that story bears repeating). Over time, we keep telling these stories so much and reading about them we exaggerate their importance in the greater context. For example, waterfront plan opponents contended in the papers that our waterfront is important because John Smith once came by. Truth is, he sailed every river in the area in his explorations -- every riverside cove in the Chesapeake Bay watershed probably has the same claim! I love our history, but we look weak when we clutch at straws of little real importance. Regards,
Katy Cannady March 22, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I pay little attention to the stuff that is said on the commercial tours of Old Town, some of which seems to be referrenced above and, silly me, I also don't see historic preservation as a Democrats-Republicans issue. And it is probably silly to be arguing about Alexandria's place in the French and Indian War. However, it is an historic fact that every one of the Royal colonial governors came to Alexandria and met at John Carlyle's house for three days in April 1755 to discuss how to prosecute the French and Indian War. It was the only gathering of its kind held in the colonies until years later when the colonial leaders begun to plan their revolution against British rule. I also think having John Smith anywhere within a 100 miles is important. Not many places in the entire United States can say that.
lynnhampton March 23, 2012 at 12:01 AM
If I understand you correctly, you are in favor of a tobacco warhehouse and tavern at Robinson North. Given its location, it likely had rooming houses too. This could be a good design model for the hotel in the plan for Robinson North.
Edgar Warfield March 23, 2012 at 03:55 AM
Miss Katy's comment is just the 'ol Democrat's point (although I'd agree historic preservation is not, in and of itself, a partisan issue): Miss Katy says all of the colonial governors came to the Congress of Alexandria. In fact -- easily verifiable fact what with the internet and all--- only five did. This is a perfect example of folks with little historical knowledge believing what they've been told "on the commercial tours" instead of facts -- as part of our ongoing, and perhaps necessary, effort to "scale up" our actual historic record to match our great architecture and match our tourism efforts. Facts take second place to a good story. But don't worry Miss Katy, if you want to tell the King Street visitors that "every one of the Royal colonial governors" came here, this 'ol Demcrat won't correct you in front of our guests (wouldn't be polite).
pastexperiences March 23, 2012 at 12:25 PM
But the million dollar a piece trolleys look handsome and historic even when Union street is flooded and the residential neighborhood infrastructures are caving in.
Katy Cannady March 23, 2012 at 12:58 PM
I never rely on the internet for my facts on any subject. It is notoriousIy unreliable. I also never accost strangers on King Street. However, our actual history and Alexandria's place in the greater American story are our greatest draw for visitors. It is what makes Alexandria a unique place. It is a shame that those who are marketing the city to tourists don't use this story. I think we'd get more tourist dollars if we did.
Dennis Auld March 23, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Katy, you can find reliable information on the Internet, just look for it with credible authors/publishers. Second, I can't believe your are advocating more tourists. That is the last thing some of the Old Town waterfront residents want. My opinion is they want things to stay the same, and are willing to put forth any argument to get it. I am surprised, you not being a waterfront resident, that you have bought into their history argument. It is disappearing before your eyes. I'm glad to see there are reasoned, rational, and subject educated participants here. This includes you Katy.
Mike Urena March 23, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Frankly, Katy I think you'd have a very tough time selling Alexandria's place in the greater American story if it continues to be oversold. We are certainly near a lot of history with the capital just a few miles away and sacred ground all around us at places like Mount Vernon, Manassas and Fredericksburg but there's a reason why our museums aren't a big draw. Because of our proximity to these places/events the city's been witness to much but I'd argue central to very little.
Katy Cannady March 23, 2012 at 10:15 PM
I was not going to comment any more, but then Dennis Auld wants to suggest that Old Town residents are inhospitable to tourists. You should not be characterizing the residents of another neighborhood in that way. Some years ago, I was one of several visitors to a home on the waterfront on a Saturday morning. When we were all leaving, our host walked out onto the sidewalk with us and left his front door open behind him. Two ladies went into his house while his back was turned. They thought it was a shop. My host was very pleasant to these ladies in shooing them out. In any other neighborhood, strangers who just walked through your front door might not get a polite response. My position on tourism in Old Town is the Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan position. As Dennis Auld knows, CAAWP has wide support in Old Town and in other parts of the city as well. By the way, new information on historical events comes to light all the time. Sometime in the last 20 years, descendants of John Carlyle's brother, alerted the Carlyle House to a trove of letters Carlyle sent to his brother in Scotland whose descendants preserved them. They shed a lot of light on Carlyle's hosting of those royal governors. Historical information is not a static thing. Another example of a recent discovery is the Freedmen's Cemetary Burial list, found by an archivist at the Virginia Historical Library, at the bottom of a box of other documents.

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