Opinion Your Views — 11 July 2013
Don’t listen to the propaganda: Alexandria is on the decline

To the editor:

Alexandria is being run like a Wall Street bank. The last election in November was a farce from a local perspective and the result of such indifference (or should I say such blind allegiance to one political party) is now becoming clearer and clearer.

The city’s population is rising much faster than the amount of open space per capita, which is far below what it should be for a city of this size and wealth. “City meets 100-acre target,” read the headlines, but that’s not a success story — it’s a failure. Great cities have great open spaces, and we don’t!

Tree care? Take a look at the stumps of the big, old oak trees that lined the street near the soon-to-be rebuilt Jefferson-Houston School (a project which was pushed through over the design objections of many residents there). Public housing with real open space — and trees and playgrounds for kids — is being demolished, and cheap-looking new housing is being erected with inadequate open space.

The waterfront redevelopment plan was passed over the objections of residents that wanted to improve it. Recently, the board of architectural review approved a residential project on North Columbus Street over the objections of neighbors. The proposed new Metro stop at Potomac Yard is being financed like a mortgage derivative.

Then there is the case of Hunting Towers (Hunting Point now) near Hunting Creek, which the Virginia Department of Transportation recently sold. What will happen to these affordable apartments now? What’s the city done to help? Little so far.

There are market forces at play here to be sure, but the real push for these changes comes from City Hall and its elected leaders and the folks they align themselves with in the community. We need to hold politicians whose interests are in conflict with a real democracy responsible — as is occurring in Turkey and Brazil. Time is running out.
- Andrew Macdonald
Alexandria

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(4) Readers Comments

  1. I am a resident that believes we have a good amount of open space. I also like the waterfront plan and can’t wait to be able to walk along the water all the way through old town. I believe in a free market economy and personal property rights. I believe in expanding public transportation. I like bikes. I don’t particularly love subsidizing housing in areas with high real estate value. So far, the folks in city council have been responsive to people like me, moderate progressives who believe in deliberate and measured growth. I think your suggestion that we have a populous uprising like Turkey / Brazil is silly.

  2. I stopped reading at “The city’s population is rising much faster than the amount of open space per capita” for reasons that should be obvious to anyone who knows what “per capita” means.

  3. I would like to see the data source for this “open space” claim. I keep seeing this quote parroted by various letter writers and bloggers, in addition to endless recitals by the failed candidate. Some context would be appreciated, as to whether the claim is based on city size, population, and what other cities Alexandria is being compared to, how old those cities are, and whether their development pattern is primarily urban or suburban.

  4. It’s actually not a baseless point regarding open space. Alexandria has a 130+ page report on open space and on page 30 there is a comparison to other cities.

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