After six years of public input, debate, and bureaucratic delays, the National Park Service has selected a plan for Jones Point Park.
According to a statement released on Wednesday by the Park Service, Through environmental analysis and interagency review, the NPS has determined that the selected alternative will not significantly affect the environment, and has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact identifying Alternative 4A as the selected alternative for the Jones Point Park improvements.
The selected alternative (Alternative 4A) features an access road that connects to a new cul-de-sac at the south end of Royal Street and extends eastward to a 95-space parking area along with a vehicular turnaround located just west of the Potomac River.
The park was redesigned as part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project. In 1999, when the City of Alexandria settled a lawsuit with the federal government over construction of the bridge, plans for the park were included in court documents. In 2001, the city, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Stakeholders Group, and the National Park Service, had agreed on a design for the park, which had been signed but had not been published. Then, on September 11, 2001, terrorists flew airplanes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center and the plans changed.
Not what city wanted
The city preferred a plan that called for two large rectangular north of the bridge, parking on the perimeter of the park only, and no access road through the park. South of the bridge, the citys plan included an event lawn and interpretive historic markers. Virginia Congressman Jim Moran (D-8th) has been supportive of the citys position on Jones Point Park and has worked closely with both the city and NPS to resolve the issues.
The final proposal wasnt everything we wanted, but it represents a compromise in which the city gets the recreation area it needs and security requirements are met. I appreciate the Park Services openness to working with the interested parties to come up with a solution we can all live with, Moran said.
Homeland Security concerns forced a redesign that curtailed activities under the bridge and precluded parking there. That redesign led to discussions among community groups and a debate over all of the design elements in the park. On three occasions, the Alexandria City Council reaffirmed the citys support for the pre-September 11, 2001, plan. The National Park Service has selected a plan that neither the city nor nearby neighbors at Yates Garden, prefer.
Alexandria leases the park from NPS and spends approximately $300,000 per year to maintain the facilities. Judy Noritake, chairman of the citys parks and recreation commission and has been involved in discussions with NPS and community members over the redesign of Jones Point Park since 1999.
The bad news part of Alternative 4A has always been the single large parking lot smack in the middle of the park, the long driveway to it and then beyond to the waterfront. I continue to be very disappointed with NPS that parking and roads will be the main features as you enter into this park, Noritake said.