EDITORIAL: Knowing when to give up the ghost

(Image/City of Alexandria)

There comes a time when enough is enough. The opposition to Carr City Center’s proposed waterfront hotel is fast approaching that moment.

As expected, Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront has appealed the board of architectural review’s decision to approve Carr’s project along the 200 block of S. Union St. The group previously had announced its intent to do so and, earlier this week, revealed it had collected enough signatures to force Alexandria City Council to take yet another look at the hotel.

That’s all well and good. It’s within the rights of ordinary residents to appeal controversial decisions and ask for a second opinion. It’s even to be applauded, given the importance of this project — the first major component of the controversial and ambitious waterfront redevelopment plan to approach fruition.

But a close read of the group’s announcement leaves us with an ominous feeling. In it, Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront helpfully note that even if city councilors stand by their earlier vote — 6-0 to approve the project — opponents can always take the issue to the courts.

We cannot predict what Alexandria’s elected officials will do when they take up the appeal next month. But if they do uphold the board of architectural review’s decision to give Carr the green light, we hope opponents will applaud themselves for fighting the good fight as long as they could and then take a step back.

Are their concerns about Carr’s project valid? Of course. We also have qualms, particularly concerning what we fear will become a parking nightmare for residents around the hotel and restaurant.

And should City Hall be held to the promises officials have made regarding public amenities and flood mitigation efforts? Again, yes.

It’s on those issues that Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront’s time, money and energy should be focused, as well as the upcoming redevelopment projects at the Robinson Terminals.

We worry that another protracted legal battle is on the horizon, one that will cost these passionate residents, Carr and the city — and taxpayers by extension — good will and treasure. Haven’t we been here before? More than once?

There comes a point where all reasonable avenues of resistance have been exhausted. With the normal process by which residents can weigh in on city matters about to end, that point is in sight.

If city councilors let Carr’s project sail onward, we hope Friends of the Alexandria Waterfront will move on to other fights. Beating a dead horse does no one any good.

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