Opinion Your Views — 23 January 2014
Just say no to eminent domain

By Mary Kapellas, Alexandria
(File Photo)

To the editor:

Over the last few months, I have read several articles on eminent domain concerning the city’s seizure of the Old Dominion Boat Club’s property. People have recommended that the ugly weed-infested chain link fence be replaced with a wooden fence or that the boat club volunteer to relocate.

A few believe private property has no place on the waterfront.

But it’s eminent domain that has no place in Alexandria. How is removing the parking lot or boat club going to improve the community? It was the city that erected the awful fence and took over the grassy area by the boat club, which is weed-infested and looks horrible.

I in no way support eminent domain. The boat club has been a vital part of Old Town since 1880. It helps a lot of people in our community through efforts like Toys for Tots, Salvation Army bell ringers, the Wounded Warrior Project and scholarships for special-needs children.

It’s sad that such fine people — the members of the boat club — are being singled out. If it happens to one person or organization under this mayor and city council, it can happen to any of us. Stop eminent domain.

 

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(3) Readers Comments

  1. What building is in the photo that accompanies this letter? It is certainly not the boat club.

  2. Editor’s note: Good catch! Thanks for pointing that out. The problem is fixed. The previous image was of the Beachcomber, which is up for possible redevelopment.

  3. The ODBC asked for a permit several years ago so it could replace the chain link fence with something more Victorian. Brick pillars and black iron that would look beautiful and fit perfectly with the Alexandria waterfront buildings. The city said no. Why? Because it looked too nice, they wouldn’t be able to convince Alexandrian’s that all the money they were going to blow on Eminent Domain seizing the ODBC lot would be worth it. It also bothers me that someone on the Waterfront commission owns a vested interest in the water Taxi that the city wants to use a dock they want to install, in front of the ODBC boat launch. That reeks of favoritism and to my knowledge, that person has never recused themselves from voting on the proposed water front plan, KNOWING their company will benefit from the seizure of the ODBC property!

    I remember going downtown in 1982 and seeing nothing but dilapidated buildings and a large empty nasty looking building called the Torpedo factory. Next to it was the only well kept building around… The ODBC begged the city to clean up the waterfront area and eventually it did. To their credit, the City has done some wonderful things along the waterfront, but destroying a 134 year old institution should NOT be one they proceed with.

    The ODBC has always been willing to work with the city on cleaning up the boat launch / lot, but the city wants it for themselves. The ODBC hasn’t sold the property because they know they don’t have to unless the 750 members vote to do so. I say leave them alone!

    The ODBC has done wonderful work for the community and destroying them would be a huge mistake.
    Flood mitigation, sure the Club has already agreed to work with the city on that. New fencing? Absolutely, the city turned down that request. Should the City spend millions of dollars using eminent domain to put in more city docks so people can float over to the casinos at National Harbor?? I don’t think they should. They already have plenty of dock space for the water Taxi’s and do not need the water in front of ODBC.

    My two cents…

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