To the editor:
High-rise development on Founders Park was staved off in 1979 as the result of concerted efforts by nearby residents and Ellen Pickering, among others. Since then, Founders Park Community Association members have been proactive stewards of this very popular and highly used city park.
Each year, as a participant in the state’s Adopt-A-Park initiative, the association puts earned program funds back into the park for upgrades and aesthetic improvements, such as wrought iron fencing for the flowerbeds.
Largely through the association’s efforts, the park boasts a volleyball court and large dog exercise area, while the rest is open, inviting, and available to residents and tourists from around the world. It was decided early on that the park would remain passive so as many family-size gatherings as possible could share this space. It would not be available for events, such as the large Red Cross Festival — which was originally held there — because the subsequent damage closed the park for many days while it was being repaired.
Now, apparently, some city staffers think it would be a good idea to change this policy — a policy that has been so successful — and allow events. This is wrong, and it speaks to a slippery slope that will forever transform the bucolic greenway of this park into a noisy and crowded place with attendant problems.
These events would take up too much park space. They would be off-putting for those seeking a quiet, green refuge. This potential move goes against good public policy that shows how important it is for urban localities to provide safe and unreserved havens for residents and visitors.
While there might be good intentions behind this proposed change, it should be dismissed because of the many unintended consequences — including parking shortages, street congestion and the drain on public servants diverted to patrol crowds as well as sod and sprinkler damage.
All that said, the important message here is that we — residents of Alexandria — must protect not just Founders Park, but all our city parks because they are scarce and valuable resources.
- Linda Couture