Opinion Your Views — 26 December 2013
What happened to civility in Alexandria?

By Jim Durham, Alexandria
(File Photo)

To the editor:

On November 25, the traffic and parking board performed in front of a full house. The first item on the public hearing docket was a controversial one: the city’s proposed plan for traffic calming, pedestrian safety and bike lanes on a section of King Street between Russell Road and Janneys Lane.

City staff members presented the results of their engineering analysis and public outreach, conducted over more than two months. Unfortunately, the board’s leadership greeted the presentation by Hillary Poole with disdain and disrespect.
The chairman spoke in a snarky tone and was dismissive.

There were about 56 speakers (38 for and 18 against). The public comments were respectfully delivered. The public fulfilled its responsibilities to be respectful and listen. Not so for the board’s leadership.

The board mostly ignored the speakers and did not listen to answers to the few questions asked. For example, when a woman asked that the roads be made safer for her Tandem Tuesdays bicycling club (which helps riders with sight impairments), board members expressed no interest at all. The few questions asked of residents who supported the city’s proposal were asked in a dismissive — if not hostile — tone.

Board members are resident representatives appointed to advise the director of transportation and environmental services. Derision and disrespect by board leaders are neither helpful nor appropriate.

Regardless of where we stand on controversial issues, let’s maintain our civility and demand the same from leaders of our boards and commissions.

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