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Parkfairfax Push Against Illegals?

To the editor:

When, on Oct. 9, 2007, the Alexandria City Council passed a resolution adding the citys name to the list of local jurisdictions offering themselves as sanctuaries for illegal aliens, it jammed its head deep into the ostrich sands of ignorance and denial.

The councils action also serves as a monument to local defiance of the spirit (if not the letter) of federal immigration law.

Now comes the opportunity for a major segment of Alexandria to begin countering the councils ill-advised action.  That segment consists of Parkfairfax the huge condominium located between the Pentagon and Quaker Lane, covering some 132 acres and containing nearly 1,700 units.

The Parkfairfax board of directors now has in its hands a written proposal to proclaim and operate the condominium as the nations first such homeowners community to formally and openly reject acceptance of the illegal-alien presence. That rejection would guarantee a no-illegal hiring policy by Parkfairfaxs management company, would extend itself to any Parkfairfax subcontractors knowingly employing illegals, and would expose any unit owners knowingly renting ones unit to an illegal alien.

At its Sept. 10, 2008, monthly meeting, the boards president declined to act immediately on the proposal. I fully expect, though, to see the proposals entry upon the agenda for the October meeting, and I encourage all Parkfairfax owners/renters to review the proposal and to let their supportive views be known to the board.

Meantime, whether they be Parkfairfaxians or not, all citizens supporting the proposal are encouraged to add their names to the related public petition at www.petitiononline.com/xillegal/petition.html.

Larry W. Bryant,
Alexandria

Tour Buses Roll Over Alexandria

To the editor:

During my entire year plus as Old Town Civic Associations representative on the National Harbor Collaborative, I asked the members of the Collaborative at every meeting to consider three major issues adversely affecting all 30,000 citizens living in the Old Town Area. Those items were: the control of the uncontrolled tour buses, the development of additional parking up the King Street corridor and the parking of motorcycles off King Street. None of these three issues were ever seriously addressed.

However, after the Collaborative broke up, the city finally decided to establish a Task Force to address the Tour Bus problems. I was asked to be a part of that Task Force by the City Manager. However, based upon my experiences on the Collaborative, where I was continuously co-opted on the three issues of importance to the Old Town citizenry, I needed another experience like that like I needed a hole in the head.

To date the Motor Coach Task Force has met five times. The first three meetings were a total waste of time as nothing gainful was accomplished. The fourth meeting allowed the participants to come up with what they deemed as priorities for action. These priorities were only set after the Mayor acquiesced to the whims of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, the Alexandria Conventions and Visitors Association (ACVA) and the Alexandria Hotel Association. Their desires are stated in the Chambers July 24th letter to the Mayor in which they essentially rejected every proposed recommendation proffered by the citizens of Old Town. In essence, it was the business communitys way or the highway. This is real democracy in action! Where is the due process? ACVA is funded as a public/private partnership at a cost of $2.5 million annually. We, the taxpayers fund their operation, so you would think that their first allegiance would be to the citizens. Not so, they could care less about the citizens desires. This organization ought to be abolished as it is an impediment to our existence.

The fifth meeting was held on the 8th of September. It concentrated on determining the routes buses were to take to the hotels, boats, restaurants and other drop off points, most of which are in the Old and Historic District. Some of the routes are absolutely bonkers. For example, running tour buses the entire length of Union Street is unimaginable as it puts bikers, joggers, walkers and skate boarders in harms way. Running tour buses up or down King Street will conflict with the automobile traffic. The majority of this Task Force just doesnt get it. They should be considering parking all of these tour buses out of mainstream Old Town and then trolleying the visitors into the historic area.   

This Task Force has totally failed to understand all the physical constraints regarding tour bus operations in Old Town. The humungous 45-60 foot buses have great difficulty in traveling the streets, especially in the Old and Historic District. They impede traffic and cannot efficiently turn the corners, especially if cars are parked near the intersections. However, if you do-away with those parking spaces, you continue to contribute to the overall shortage of residential parking spaces. A number of times when I have stopped at a stop sign the next thing I saw were one of those tour bus monsters sitting in front of my car while the arrogant and unmannered bus driver dared me to move. Luckily, in these instances I have been able to back up.

Old Town contains a number of 18th and 19th century residences, and the sheer weight, density and excessive speed of these vehicles causes vibrations that have an adverse effect on our historic structures. They also cause damage to the sidewalks and on occasion they even brush some of the residents parked cars. On a number of our narrow streets there is no way a citizens car can traverse safely with a tour bus staring them in the face. The tour buses ignore the current set of regulations already in force. No one has pre-briefed them before they come into Alexandria and spelled out what is permissible and what isnt. They park in unauthorized places, block traffic, idle for very long periods of time adding to the already high levels of pollution in Alexandria, and display an arrogant attitude that defies belief. You have no rules in this city is their common retort when confronted after breaking the law. 

In answer to all these tour bus shortcomings, a number of residents and the Old Town Civic Association have recommended that all tour buses coming into the city proceed to a central holding area where the buses are all parked. There are a number of locations where this could occur: the Masonic Temple, Metros Car Barn when its vacated or on Eisenhower Avenue. Passengers wanting to visit the Old and Historic District will then be transported by shuttle buses or trolleys. This is essentially the same process used in New Orleans, Charleston, Savannah and Key West. All in all, this plan proposed by the citizens would have been a great leap forward in controlling the numerous uncontrolled tour buses that come into Old Town every day. Without a plan of this type we have not improved our current situation, and thats exactly what the dysfunctional Tour Bus Task Force is doing. We need to let the Mayor and Council hear our complaints now and at future public hearings. The citizens are not trying to adversely affect
the businesses in Old Town, who, by the way, are a great part of the citys economic engine. However, the citizens deserve a greater role in the tour bus process. Just remember, without citizen spending there will be no economy in Old Town regardless of how many tourists the ACVA and the Chamber bring in.

Townsend A. Van Van Fleet
Alexandria

McCain in Fairfax: More of the Same

To the editor:

The McCain rally last Thursday in Fairfax was a huge disappointment. For all his talk of being a maverick, I was expecting to hear how he plans to take this country in a new
direction. Yet I still dont see how John McCain really differs from George W. Bush. On what major policies do they differ? There is a lot of silence from McCain on this topic, which is stunning considering how badly the American people want a change from the last eight years. He had an opportunity to convince me today that he really stands for change – and doesnt just talk about it – and he failed to do so. On the other hand, Obama has clearly laid out how he will change this country, and so he has earned my vote.

Tanya Menoni

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