To the editor:
What Demetrius Wilkins has done in responding to my critique of the Planning Departments draft waterfront plan is to unsuccessfully resort to class warfare tactics (“Blue-collar blues: some want a waterfront just for the wealthy,” March 3, 2011).
First of all, I don’t own a barbeque, I don’t live in a gated community and I am not an elitist. I spent 23 years of my life in the United States Army defending this country so individuals like you can invoke your First Amendment rights. I have never had anything but the best interests of this community at heart whether it was when I ran for the city council and mayor or when I led the Old Town Civic Association for two years. In all cases, I have never had a hidden agenda, only the welfare of all the residents in Alexandria.
In my article I never said the owners of the two Robinson Terminals or the Cummings properties on the Strand should “donate” their buildings to the city. What I did say is that we should convert one terminal into a maritime museum and the other into an archeological museum. In addition, I said the Cummings area buildings could be adaptive reuse projects to be occupied by the Art League and other small commercial shops. There are myriad ways this can be done through public-private partnerships and the like, any of which would not be the taking of property.
If Mr. Wilkins would step back, take a deep breath and look at what the planners are proposing he would see the same concerns that the mayor, vice mayor and a couple council members see: They are concerned about the 200 foot piers running into D.C. waters; they see an overabundance of density in the hotels and restaurants and they worry about future hotel occupancy rates; they don’t like taking Waterfront Park and putting a restaurant on top of a parking lot; they are not sure what will happen to Chadwicks and the Dandy if the 100-space parking lot is eliminated; they wonder whether they can get approvals from the U.S. Park Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and District of Columbia to implement the plan; they all wonder how the infrastructure, primarily the flooding issue will be resolved; and lastly they want to know how they will pay for all this.
So Mr. Wilkins, despite the fact that you have made a number of very constructive comments in your article, you didn’t have to pull the class warfare card. The bottom line is that everyone seems to know the plan is bad except the individual responsible for creating it.