Civic group says power plant site must be addressed before waterfront plan’s completion

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Planning for the future of the GenOn power plant must be included in the city’s controversial waterfront blueprint before it’s approved, say members of the Old Town Civic Association.

Specifics for the roughly 25-acre property in North Old Town are needed to complete a comprehensive proposal for the city’s three-mile stretch of Potomac shoreline, the group said in its monthly newsletter, released Wednesday.

“This property, which will be decommissioned as early as this year, could afford opportunities to provide more tax generating land uses, added capacity for traffic/transit access to the waterfront, and sites better suited for some of the proposed water-based plan elements such as the pleasure boat marina,” board members wrote.

The GenOn coal plant is scheduled to close in October. City Hall’s waterfront plan acknowledges the waterfront site — owned by Pepco — as significant but does not address its future in specific terms. The parcel’s housing of a coal-fired power plant poses environmental concerns yet to be studied, which  precludes a detailed plan for its inclusion in the waterfront blueprint, city officials have said.

Board members Bert Ely and David Olinger both served as group representatives on Mayor Bill Euille’s handpicked waterfront plan work group, which was charged with reconciling the proposal with resident opposition, as did OTCA member Bob Wood.

Ely, also a member of Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, has indicated he will release a minority report highlighting his concerns with the city’s proposal. The rest of the group unveiled their recommendations for the plan in late December.

Opponents of the city’s blueprint have cited the GenOn site as a reason to put a hold on waterfront planning since September, when company officials announced the plant would power down by October of this year.

City council could vote on the contentious waterfront plan as soon as January 21.