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Preserving the citys character
Jeni Upchurchs article in The Times July 16, Preserving citys historic character comes to a head, needs clarifying. 

Ms. Upchurch wrote in the article that I was the one firing the salvos at the chairman of the Board of Architectural Review (BAR) when in actuality the letter sent to the Mayor regarding the BAR was signed by the Board of Directors of the Old Town Civic Association, Townsend A. Van Fleet, President, not solely by Van Van Fleet. I wrote the first draft, which was subsequently revised at least six or seven times by the other members of the OTCA Board. The end product sent by me to the Times hardly resembles the initial draft.  

In fact, when the Times printed most of our letter in their June 10 issue it did not accurately print who actually sent the letter to the Mayor and Council. Again, they have me as the author. 

The article identifies me as a Washington lobbyist. Just what did my daytime job have to do with my work as the immediate past President of the Old Town Civic Association? By the way, many residents over the years have been critical of Mr. Hulfish as having a major conflict of interest selling properties while sitting in judgment on property developments and redevelopments as chairman of the BAR.  

Hulfish or Upchurch even went so far as to pull out Mr. Hulfishs seventh generation Old Towner card. Well, my Old Town roots go back at least seven generations, as I am a direct descendent of George Mason IV, who not only gave us the Bill of Rights but was also a Trustee of the City of Alexandria for 25 years.   

I have always bent over backwards not to be contentious or angry, especially when dealing with what I believe to be the dysfunction of the BAR. Mr. Hulfish just doesnt like the fact that as the President of the Old Town Civic Association, we along with the Historic Alexandria Foundation (HAF) continuously challenge BAR decisions when it is necessary.  

I will admit that I have little patience for incompetence and that is exactly what the BAR displays every other week. I doubt seriously whether most of them have ever read the Guidelines for Historic Preservation, except for Peter Smeallie who wrote the guidelines with Peter Smith.  If they have, then why do so many wrong decisions come out of that body? This Board needs to be reconstituted.  

I am glad Mr. Hulfish agrees with the Old Town Civic Association in stating that whatever you did to the Holiday Inn would be an improvement. My question then becomes why did the BAR approve what I believe to be such an atrocious color scheme in the first place? Maybe he would consider exerting some of his civic prowess and change it. Its never too late.  

Regarding the articles assertion that Mr.  Hulfish and I were planning to meet at the Old Dominion Boat Club (ODBC) and see if some consensus can be reached on a smoother public discourse over proposed alterations to the citys historic fabric is not an accurate reflection of the meetings planned agenda. Mr. Hulfish, Poul Hertel, the New Old Town Civic President and I were scheduled to meet at the ODBC on June 30 to discuss the Van Alstine sculpture.  

Unfortunately I was taken ill and never made the appointment. Within that same context, Ms. Upchurch says that the two said they plan. But Ms. Upchurch never had the courtesy to contact me before writing her article.  

If the Times is going to do interviews wherein the interviewee takes shots at another citizen, then that citizen should be given the opportunity to respond. This entire article by Ms Upchurch was shoddy reporting at best. 

Townsend A. Van Van Fleet,Old Town

Water hazard on the Potomac
As an avid boater on the Potomac River, I am alarmed by the pilings located in the middle of the channel on the south side of the Wilson Bridge. The problem with these pilings, other than being an eyesore, is that they are not lit at night. They are an accident ready to happen to any boater who cruises through the channel at night.

I would prefer that these large, rusting steel posts be taken out of our river but if that is not possible, at least put some lights on them for the safety of night-time boaters.

LaDonna Hale Curzon
Alexandria, Virginia

Greetings from Dundee
I have been reading your newspaper online quite regularly and do so from your twinned city in Dundee, Scotland.

However, being twinned with Dundee, I was surprised that your newspaper did not cover the Glasgow East by-election in Scotland. The Scottish National Party returned an MP to the London parliament of Westminster overturning a 13,000 Labour party majority and Labours third safest seat in Scotland. It is another historic day for the people of Scotland and those wishing Independence from the United Kingdom.

I visited Virginia in 2002 and enjoyed my stay very much. It had an effect on myself so much that over the next four years I am going to be studying American Studies and International Relations at Dundee University.  During my course I would like to come back again to Virginia, perhaps this time with other students.

It surprises me that you do not (with having expat and descendants of Scots in Virginia) report not just on Dundee but Scotland wide. Both our peoples would benefit from the experience both culturally and economically. Perhaps you could work with our own The Dundee Courier and Evening Telegraph locally for articles. 

Your country rose against the British colonial power.  We now have had a Union between England and Scotland for over 300 years that many Scots would like to see ended.  Our people would be curious to see what the Virginian descendants of Scotland or otherwise say and feel about the situation we face moving towards an Independent Scotland.

Your people had the courage to take them on and win.  Now of course is a different time and not many in Scotland either desire or wantscivil war.  It is my belief that wherever possible battles in the world should be fought politically.  The people of Scotland will choose what their heart desires for the love of their country when the time comes.

Unfortunately, all three Unionists parties (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats) do not want to give Scots the chance to vote in a Scottish Independence referendum.

However, an interesting story/debate would be:

Imagine your colonies had not risen against the British government or had not won. What would America and in particular Alexandria, Virginia, look like now? I think more than a few people round the world would be curious to see your take on such a story. 

Would your people be like the Scottish people now, taxed to the hilt through direct and indirect taxation?

and/or

Would your people be like Scotland now, where of the 25 poorest areas in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland), 22 are found in Scotland?

In Scotland, the Unionists are called Onionists because when you peel them back you find layers of deceit and economic mismanagement stretching back over many decades. 

It is my belief that within the next five years the Scottish people will vote in independence for Scotland.  We will no longer be (in all but name) what you once were – a British colony.

David Birse  
Dundee, Scotland

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