To the editor:
I recently visited the Charles Houston Recreation Center to run on the treadmill and escape the oppressive heat and humidity plaguing the region. On this day, unlike previous visits, upon checking in I was asked if I had paid up. Upon further investigation I learned that, as of July 1, the city instituted a new policy requiring residents to pay a fee in order to use the fitness room.
Having used the facility for more than a year, I was indeed surprised by the fact that I was being asked to pay $4 per day to use the fitness room. When this $15.3 million dollar building was re-opened, use of the facilities was free.
I shouldnt be surprised. You no doubt have witnessed something similar (or soon will) for things you already pay for; or, like me, previously didnt pay for.
Maybe youve used a parking meter around town where rates are now $1.75 per hour. Homeowners take note: The City Council approved a 7.5-cent increase in your property tax rate. According to the citys own website, The average homeowners taxes will increase by $125, or 2.9%. That $125 is on top of what youre already paying. All told this latest change will raise approximately $300 million, according to the Alexandria Times.
How did we end up here? One reason is because of poor decisions made by the City Council decisions like spending more than $15 million to rebuild the Charles Houston Recreation Center instead of the initial decision in 2001 to spend $4.2 million to renovate it.
Yet Alexandrians can do something about it and to some extent they have already started. Last year Alexandrians elected two new members to the Council: Frank Fannon and Alicia Hughes. This was a good start. However, some of the same folks who got us in this mess remain. Mayor Bill Euillie has served on the City Council since 1994; Del Pepper since 1985. To quote the inventor Charles Kettering, The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.
In the meantime, Ill spend less time running at the gym and more time on our city streets.