Fanfare at Potomac Yard

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On Saturday, members of City Council and other interested members of the community met at Potomac Yard and broke ground for the new fire station. The station and the affordable housing units that will be built above it will open next year.

The development at Potomac Yard is moving along much faster than many people think, and this groundbreaking is just another example of that, said Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille. Now, we are going to extend some triggers that were put in place in 1999 to give the developer and members of the community time to work some things out.

Those things are whether and where to build a pedestrian bridge linking one side of the Potomac Yard development with the other, what to do about Rail Park and the completion of the transit lanes on Route 1.

The Rail Park is three acres of land between the CSX and Metro tracks that was previously zoned for utilities only. In 1999, the developer proposed and the city accepted a plan to turn it into a dog park. The plan now is to deed the property to the city and leave it alone for now until the development is further along and members of the community can decide what to do with it.

The plan was flawed from the beginning, said Roland Misner, representing Old Town Greens. The only way to gain access to this property is through our park, and unless the city plans to take our property by eminent domain, that isnt going to happen. Rail Park should remain zoned for utility.

Sandy Modelle, representing Del Ray dog owners, didnt disagree. I am not here to lobby for Rail Park to become a dog park, but we were promised a three-acre dog exercise area and we deserve to have that, she said.

The additional acre that is being proposed near Simpson Field is a start, but is not enough to accommodate the needs of the dog owners who are going to move into the 2,000 homes that are planned at Potomac Yard. We estimate that that means an additional 600 dogs, and Simpson Park is already over used. If not Rail Park, where?

As to the pedestrian bridge, it is now proposed to land in the spot that has been set aside for a possible Metro station. Both the design and the location are still being discussed, and the developer and the community will now have ample time to continue those discussions and reach some agreement without penalties because triggers have been missed.

Council is now scheduled to vote on the matters early next year.

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