To the editor:
Im writing in support of the excellent letter to the editor by Gail Noren in the July 14 edition of the Alexandria Times.
As a 30-year resident of Alexandria, I concur with her sentiment that something has gone very wrong with development and proposed development in Alexandria. In my view, this pursuit of development has not been a net plus for the quality of life in Alexandria. Whether they are private or federal, most of these large projects have not been the boon they were envisioned to be for the city.
Moreover, the price Alexandrians have paid in the erosion of our quality of life through congestion, traffic and density has not been worth the benefit we have derived. The majority of Alexandrians I have spoken with share this sentiment.
Without repeating the excellent examples cited by Ms. Noren, it is important to pose the following questions to your readers:
Are you pleased with the direction Alexandria has taken over the past decade?
Is the quality of life in Alexandria improving or deteriorating?
I submit, if we stop to reflect on the development decisions our local officials have made, we will not answer in the affirmative.
While I believe city officials have been well intentioned, I think they have been overly influenced by the example of our local neighbors, Arlington and Fairfax. I work in Arlington. If I wanted to live in Arlington, I would have moved years ago. However, I was attracted to the less dense, more human scale of Alexandria. I realize that the pursuit of tax revenue from development can be very enticing to the government but, hopefully, not at the expense of our quality of life and character of our community. In my view, Alexandria needs to step back and do an assessment of how much more development we want to tolerate and rethink what kind of community we want to be.
Alexandria is at a tipping point. Indeed we may have passed that point. Do we want to be Arlington think Ballston and Clarendon or do we want to maintain the unique qualities of Alexandria? I personally believe our elected officials and planning department have not adequately recognized the threat excessive development poses, nor have they heeded the concerns of their constituents.
All too often concerns expressed by residents are falling on deaf ears at City Hall. While Im sure City Hall will emphatically disagree, all too many city-run meetings give the impression that the government is just going through the motions and that decisions have already been made. I hope they are listening because continuing business as usual will, I believe, perpetuate a course that will irrevocably change Alexandria. While change is inevitable, we need to do a much better job of managing this change.