A tale of two plazas


To the editor:

I grew up in upstate New York, although I have lived almost half my life in the suburbs of Northern Virginia. My hometown is a bucolic village, nestled at the foothills of the Catskills, slightly south of Albany and north enough of “The City,” guaranteeing immunity from lake effect snow, storms from the West and Nor’easters from the South. Not to say I didn’t see my fair share of the white stuff coming down in feet just not Buffalo- or Utica-style. 

Needless to say, my initial reaction to the “bread, milk and toilet tissue” ritual was disbelief and amusement, and in the years subsequent, it has never ceased to amaze me that the DC Metro area still hasn’t really learned to deal with more than a dusting. Yes, the City of Alexandria did a relatively good job this time clearing its streets and keeping its residents off of them. Fairfax, conveniently still had fairly untouched ones, as I discovered to my dismay one icy bump at a time. 

But the true test, as any driver knows, is what you can do with your car after you are off the road.

I live near Seminary Plaza. It is actually within walking distance from my home for whatever I can carry. And although I did not need to move my car to shop there, I was most impressed with how the lot was plowed: Snow piles in the center with nothing impeding the pathways to parking spaces. When I attempted to patronize Van Dorn Plaza, literally just down the street, I found it in stark contrast: A sea of high snow mounds at the end of every row, making visibility difficult and driving dangerous, to say nothing of the dearth of contiguous clean spaces for vehicles.

Why the variations between and within municipalities and privately owned property? I was here for the Blizzard of 1983 and all the subsequent big storms. There has been enough opportunity to learn. It’s not about having enough equipment or not it’s about knowing what to do with what you’ve got. Maybe in another quarter-century, more or all of the region will get the hang of it.  I can only hope…and perhaps I’ll even still be living here to see it! 

Karen Ann DeLuca