To the editor:
Although the city council voted 6-1 to rezone the Alexandria waterfront last month, and although I was disappointed that four years of constructive planning were coming to an end, I was impressed by the intellectual clarity displayed by the councilors. It was clear that they understood the concerns of residents and the importance of creating a waterfront plan that will complement one of the most important historic districts in the nation.
City Councilors Justin Wilson and John Chapman noted just how romantic a venue the waterfront is — or could be — if it weren’t for those old warehouses that gobble up so much of the landscape. City Councilor Del Pepper took the opportunity to say she had pushed for fewer boutique hotels and that former Mayor Charles Beatley would have just loved this plan.
City Councilor Paul Smedberg, who never misses the opportunity to say he likes glass, not bricks — Pepper’s historic building material of choice — said he could not imagine a more beautiful waterfront plan. City Councilor Tim Lovain, who lives in Del Ray, said he loves the waterfront as much as anyone and doesn’t want it destroyed either.
The high point of the hearing occurred when Mayor Bill Euille told everyone how he had received an anonymous email from someone who told him to remember leaders must make tough decisions that many will not like, and that is OK. There will be other opportunities for residents concerned about development to show up and speak, he said.
Only Vice Mayor Allison Silberberg struck a discordant note in the chamber. It came when she offered that the council might want to allow only one hotel. Here’s the real zinger: She said we should hold on to the 1992 zoning, which a prior council had adopted to halt overdevelopment of the waterfront. The mayor called the idea out of order, no one seconded her motion for discussion and that was essentially the end of any further opposition.
It was a fine day all and all at City Hall. Residents can rest assured that their elected leaders know what’s best for the city, even when its residents don’t.
– Andrew Macdonald