Opinion Your Views — 24 October 2012
Opinion: City officials need to listen 
to residents, not developers

To the editor:

During the October 2 mayoral debate, I was struck by Mayor Bill Euille’s unexpected frankness about the importance of the proposed Metro station for Potomac Yard’s developers. He essentially said that the Metro station at Potomac Yard is essential — otherwise that project will never be successful. For those who couldn’t attend this important debate, video clips are posted online at www.youtube.com/user/macdonaldformayor.

After the city council meeting Saturday, however, we know why Euille took that position. At that meeting, Alexandria resident Poul Hertel read passages of a two-year-old memorandum of understanding between City Hall and the developers. While I was not at this meeting, as I understand it, this memorandum states that unless the city adopts the Metro route through Potomac Yard that the developers want — regardless of the forthcoming environmental impact statement — they are under no obligation to contribute toward construction of the station.

I find this outrageous. Never mind that the developers’ preferred option also threatens a scenic easement along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. And I believe it is also true that the city administration already is proposing to siphon off some of the next 30 years of tax revenues to help build this station. That’s without having to absorb additional costs if the EIS ultimately recommends against the location that the developers prefer.

It’s no wonder the city did not release this memorandum. And it’s no wonder the mayor is adamant about the Metro station’s importance to the project. One can only speculate as to how many other secret backroom deals may have been negotiated by the mayor and city council.
This is yet another example where the deal already is done and collecting input from residents or undertaking environmental planning becomes just a sham. Examples like this clearly demonstrate that City Hall needs a thorough housecleaning.

Fortunately, on November 6, Alexandrians will have the opportunity to vote for fresh alternatives. This election is vitally important for the future of the city we love. Will Alexandria continue to be turned over to developers, as it has been throughout the mayor’s nine-year administration, or will it be returned to residents? The choice is yours, Alexandria.

- Hugh Van Horn
Andrew Macdonald for Mayor treasurer

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