Your View: Ignore history, put up a parking lot?


To the editor:

The citys planning staff two weeks ago abandoned one of the gems of the proposed waterfront plan: a major new public plaza where King Street meets the Potomac River.
The staff eliminated the plaza because the Old Dominion Boat Club made it clear that it will not consider moving its surface parking area from this location, on the remains of the historic Fitzgerald Wharf. The decision effectively means that the most important historic gateway to the city will forever be marred by a surface parking lot.
Does anybody truly think this is a good outcome? Shouldnt the history community, especially, be outraged?
Staff had proposed the eminently reasonable idea of relocating the clubs parking lot to a site immediately adjacent to its current location. The lot would have resided on the ground level of a new restaurant / retail building located on a small part of the existing Waterfront Park and thus shielded from public view, while providing security for vehicles. The city even offered to share some of the tax revenues from the new restaurants with the boat club.
The boat clubs hand may have been strengthened by opponents of the waterfront plan, who strongly objected to eliminating any of the green space in Waterfront Park a greater priority, apparently, than the parking lot. But according to the waterfront plan, public open space, including trees and grass, would have increased by more than 30 percent in this area, not including the open space created by moving the parking lot.
The new public square was intended to be a central gathering point on the waterfront for public activity. It is not clear what the boat clubs members are thinking, but they may want to continue to shield its property from the public. 
It is dispiriting to think that the boat clubs parking lot will remain at this historic location in perpetuity, especially given the wonderful new public space that staff had proposed to replace it one that would have celebrated Alexandrias history.
I hope a solution can still be reached that would meet the boat clubs needs while eliminating the surface parking lot. By agreeing to this, the boat club could make a true contribution to the public good.