To the editor:
The Alexandria City Council asked most of the questions that should have been previously addressed by the planning commission during its May 14 waterfront plan public hearing. Unfortunately, the city council must now clean up this atrocious mess. Even more egregious is the fact that the planning department has never answered most of the questions posed by citizens.
The city councils first order of business should be to strip those items that cannot be implemented because of current ownership, zoning or other legal restrictions from the plan:
1. The two 200 foot piers off King and Cameron streets and the 150 slip marina off Robinson Terminal South both violate the pier head line which is the federally mandated border between D.C. and Virginia.
2. Fitzgerald Square cannot be put together without the Old Dominion Boat Club giving up its parking lot. This will never happen as the membership depends on that space and giving it up would eventually reduce the number of members coming to the club.
3. The parking lot across from Chadwicks is two-thirds owned by the Mann and Sweeney Estates. To date there has been no indication that they will sell their interests. Therefore a park is not in the offering. Those 100 parking spaces are well used.
4. The zoning to build three 150-room hotels would have to be changed to allow lodging on Union Street. The density will exceed what the current infrastructure will allow.
5. Delete the 50,000 square feet of new restaurant space. There are more than 100 restaurants in Old Town. More restaurants will just compound our parking problems.
On the other hand, the Council should entertain the following suggestions:
1. The number one item in the plan should be to aggressively pursue nuisance flood mitigation measures.
2. Adaptively reuse the Beachcomber restaurant building. Perhaps a small office building, restaurant or a seaport museum would be desirable.
3. The two Robinson Terminals should be converted to parkland.
4. The Cummings and Turner properties on The Strand between Duke and Prince streets should be converted into a cultural center highlighting the arts, archeology and the history of this great city.
5. One of the most critical items necessary for any viable development plan to be executable is an accompanying traffic management plan (TMP).
What I have suggested is just one alternative to the waterfront plan approved by the planning commission. There are many other solutions that should have been considered, yet during the process all we saw was the same plan time and again: hotels, hotels and hotels.