To the editor:
The development of Potomac Yards is divided into landbays, most of which are east of Route 1. There is one landbay for development west of Route 1 Landbay L. It is south of Monroe Avenue behind Gold Crust Bakery and the other Art Deco buildings on Leslie Avenue and up to the railroad and Metro tracks. All of Landbay L is within a half-mile walking distance to the Braddock Metro. This is important because experts tell us that within a half-mile of any Metro stop density should be concentrated in order to minimize the use of cars.
Landbay L is almost a textbook example of a model Metro stop development area: it is an easy walk to the Braddock Metro, Giant, CVS, Gold Crust Bakery, the Y and bus stops. So it was a surprise when the idea was put forth by several citizens that perhaps a swap could occur that would transfer the density to another piece of land leaving Landbay L as open space for a park or playing fields across from Simpson Field. The desire for more public open space is one Alexandrians have always supported, but within the half-mile walkshed to the Metro? The land proposed as suitable for a swap are the playing fields belonging to G.W. Middle School along Braddock Road. The obvious advantage would be their close proximity to Braddock Metro, but not to any grocery store, pharmacy, etc. Granted, the Braddock Fields are presently open space adjacent to a Metro stop, but it is also open space adjacent to a middle school.
Are the Braddock Fields really suitable for development at the densities needed for a swap? Even at half the density transferred from Landbay L, a wall of mid-rises would enclose the school. Presently, these fields are the ones most used by G.W. and also by the larger community the Second Annual Mayors Cup Rugby Challenge Match was held there this past weekend. The only other open space at G.W. for a playing field would be the parking lot behind the school near the gym. It has been suggested that parking could be underground. Is that really appropriate at a middle school? Any other area for a field for the school is too far and therefore eats into the time allotted for physical education classes. Why do the proponents of the swap only focus on the fields on Braddock Road and not those on the other side of the school, on East Glendale, closer to Landbay L? Very curious.
At the last Potomac Yard Planning Advisory Group meeting, the owner of Landbay L said in no uncertain terms that he was not interested in a swap. Folks from the citys planning and zoning staff were unwilling to take him seriously, even though he continued to insist that he desired to build on Landbay L. Why? Very curious.
Perhaps you are thinking that there is no development planned adjacent to the Braddock Metro. That would not be the case. The approved Braddock Metro Neighborhood Plan has quite a lot of development. In addition, a plan for redevelopment of the strip mall containing the 7-11 across the street from the Braddock Fields should come forth within the year.
On June 9, a proposal by Planning and Zoning to add a study of Braddock Fields/Landbay L will come before Council. Extra funding is needed to add this study to P&Zs work load. In the present climate of reduced monetary resources, why would you spend time and money studying a plan that is both unlikely and unsuitable? Just say no to the funding for this study.
Marguerite L. Lang
President, Rosemont Citizens Association